Republican Jim Jordan plots next move after losing first US House speaker vote

Republican Jim Jordan Tuesday failed to win a first vote to serve as speaker of the US House of Representatives, but more votes were expected to follow that could wear down his opponents

Published18 Oct 2023, 01:07 AM IST
Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.
Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.(Bloomberg)

Combative right-wing Republican Jim Jordan failed to win a first vote on Tuesday to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, but more votes were expected to follow that could wear down his opponents.

The Ohio lawmaker backed by former President Donald Trump won 200 votes, short of the 217 needed to win the job, as 20 of his fellow Republican voted against him. All 212 Democrats voted for their leader, Hakeem Jeffries.

The loss means that for now the House remains leaderless, as it has been since a handful of Republican hardliners engineered Kevin McCarthy's ouster as speaker two weeks ago. That has left Congress unable to respond to wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, with just a month to go before the U.S. government faces another partial shutdown deadline.

It is not clear how many of Jordan's Republican opponents would hold firm in subsequent votes. McCarthy never got less than 200 votes in 15 rounds over four days in January.

If Jordan prevails, a conservative who has spent years fighting with leaders of his own party could end up in one of the most powerful jobs in Washington, putting him second in line for the presidency behind the vice president.

"He is a patriot, an America First warrior who wins the toughest of fights," Republican Representative Elise Stefanik said as she nominated Jordan for speaker on the House floor.

Republicans did not nominate another candidate, but that did not stop his opponents from voting for someone else. Many of them are moderates who represent politically competitive districts.

Seven Republicans voted for Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican whose own bid for speaker fell apart last week, and six voted instead for McCarthy. Three Republicans voted for Lee Zeldin, who retired from Congress in January, and Republican Representatives Tom Cole, Tom Emmer, Thomas Massie and Mike Garcia got one vote each.

McCarthy and Scalise both voted for Jordan.

Some of Jordan's opponents have objected to high-pressure tactics by conservatives to get them to fall in line. "I will not be pressured or intimidated," said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, who voted for Scalise.

Republicans control the House by a narrow 221-212 margin, giving them little room for error on divisive votes like this one.

After the vote, Jordan could be seen on the House floor talking with lawmakers who had voted against him.

New Republican challengers could emerge if Jordan does not pick up support, including Patrick McHenry, who is temporarily filling the speaker's chair, and No. 3 House Republican Tom Emmer.

Jordan, a founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, has for much of his career been seen as a divisive force on Capitol Hill, tangling with Republicans and Democrats alike.

His supporters say he would be an effective advocate for spending cuts and other Republican priorities in negotiations with Democratic President Joe Biden and the Senate, which is also controlled by Democrats.


Democrats have recoiled at Jordan's candidacy, painting him as an extremist who would take orders from former President Donald Trump.

Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar said on the House floor that Jordan's election would show the United States' enemies that "the very people who seek to undermine democracy are rewarded with positions of immense power. We are talking about someone who has spent their entire career trying to hold our country back."

Jeffries has suggested a bipartisan deal that could give more powers to the temporary speaker, according to a Democrat who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Jordan comes at the job from a profoundly different angle from other leaders in Congress, who typically wield influence by raising money and keeping their party united.

A fixture on conservative media outlets, Jordan amplified Trump's false claims of election fraud in 2020. As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, he is helping lead an impeachment inquiry into Biden that Democrats decry as baseless.

He helped found the House Freedom Caucus, which then-Speaker John Boehner dubbed "legislative terrorists" before members of that group pressured him to retire. Jordan was an architect of government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018.

Jordan had a more productive relationship with McCarthy, who was forced out by a small group of Republican insurgents.

Republicans nominated Scalise to succeed McCarthy last week, but he abandoned his bid after he was unable to consolidate support - a development that some Republicans blame on Jordan and his supporters.

Before entering politics, Jordan served as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Former students in 2018 accused him of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse of college wrestlers by the wrestling team's doctor. He denied those allegations and a university investigation found no hard evidence that he knew of the abuse.

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First Published:18 Oct 2023, 01:07 AM IST
HomeNewsWorldRepublican Jim Jordan plots next move after losing first US House speaker vote

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