As the House began its 17th day without a speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)—clearly short of the votes he needs to win the position—started Friday with an 8 a.m. press conference and an anecdote about the Wright brothers.
The Ohioan regaled the Capitol Hill Press corps with a history lesson about how Orville and Wilbur Wright first flew a plane in 1903, and then, 66 years later, in 1969, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.
“We went from two guys flying 100 feet to putting a man on the moon,” Jordan said. “It is a great country.”
But not even four hours later, Jordan’s speakership bid still showed no signs of taking flight. Instead, it was crashing and burning.
On the third speaker vote, Jordan bled even more support from the GOP conference. The GOP’s speaker nominee went from 20 holdouts on Tuesday, to 22 holdouts on Wednesday, and then 25 on Friday morning. He lost his third ballot for the speakership with just 194 votes. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) received 210 votes from all of the Democrats.
Although former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) delivered the nominating speech for Jordan ahead of the vote, McCarthy still received two votes. Four former McCarthy supporters switched their vote to Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC). Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) also received eight votes.
His detractors have bristled at the Jordan camp’s pressure campaign. Many members have reported receiving death threats due to their opposition to Jordan. And Jordan’s allies haven’t exactly taken a sympathetic tone on these threats
Punchbowl News reported Friday Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) deflected blame from Jordan’s team but said the threats would continue unless Jordan’s opponents flip. Davidson has since denied the reporting and denounced the threats.
Close Jordan ally and House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-PA) called the threats a “red herring.”
Besides continuing with speaker votes that show no signs of improving for Jordan or dropping out, Jordan faces limited options.
Jordan’s proposed escape hatch—a plan to give greater explicit powers to McHenry while he remained the speaker nominee—was rejected by his conference after a three-plus hour conference meeting Thursday.
GOP supporters of the idea could still introduce the McHenry empowerment plan and insist on a vote through procedural means, but movement on that strategy seems to have stalled.
The dynamic has left holdouts hungry for an alternative speaker candidate. The Texas delegation met Thursday morning to discuss a Lone Star candidate. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chair of the House Appropriations Committee and a Jordan holdout, has floated backing Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX). (Arrington, for his part, said he is backing Jordan 100 percent, according to the Texas Tribune.)
Other members, like Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI), are floating themselves as a way out of what has become a death spiral of failed speaker votes.
But it’s unclear that any Republican can get to 217 votes on their side alone. And Jordan’s plan—just continuing to vote—doesn’t appear to be getting him any closer. In fact, it’s moving him farther away.
The Daily Beast