House of Representatives remains in limbo, as GOP dumps Jordan as nominee

Caitlyn Kim
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan talking to reporters.

House Republicans are back to square one after Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan lost the backing of the conference Friday afternoon during a secret ballot that deposed him as the nominee. 

It came after his third bid for the gavel fell short, as 25 Republicans voted for someone other than him.

Staunch Jordan supporter, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, left the meeting stone faced and unsure if anyone would be able to unify the conference. She blamed Jordan’s downfall to one group of holdouts, in particular. “The appropriators are the deepest of the swamp creatures,” she said. 

The opposition to Jordan was varied. There were veteran appropriators, Republicans in districts that Biden won, defense hawks, and Colorado’s Ken Buck who cited the 2020 elections as one of the reasons he opposed Jordan.

“I think now we get to candidates that don’t have as much institutional opposition,” Buck said after the closed door meeting.  “I think there are a lot of ways we get to 217.”

Names Buck floated included head of the Republican Study Committee Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, chair of the Budget Committee Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas, and Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas. 

Representatives interested in running are expected to announce by Sunday, with a candidate forum as early as Monday.

Either way, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado wants a quick solution. 

“Each day that this continues, we lose an opportunity to get appropriations bills done….and an opportunity to help Israel with a supplemental of some type,” he said. “So we’re loosing opportunities and I’m very unhappy about that."

The House is approaching three weeks without a speaker. During that time, the floor has been paralyzed.

Jordan lost the secret ballot 86-112.  

He started his congressional career 16 years ago as a conservative bomb thrower and had hoped to lead the chamber. In the last roll call vote Friday morning he retained the support of Boebert and Lamborn, but saw Buck vote again for GOP Whip Tom Emmer.

All Democrats voted for their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

There were only 427 members present for the Friday vote, so a candidate needed 214 votes to get the gavel. Jordan received 194 votes, while Jeffries received 210. 

During this roll call, three more Republicans flipped away from Jordan, signaling a slow erosion of his support.

Jordan held a brief press conference prior to the vote talking about the work ahead for the House from aid to Israel to the southern border. “The quickest way to get all this work in is to get the Speaker elected. That’s what I hope to do today.

“There’s been multiple rounds of votes for speaker before, we all know that,” Jordan said. “I just know that we need a speaker as soon as possible."

Just as Jordan decided to push on, those opposed to him also remained determined and added to their ranks. Many of the holdouts have received threatening messages, as Jordan allies and right wing media tried to pressure them to change their vote. 

As Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida noted, “the problem isn’t who votes what, the problem is, there’s an individual that knows he can’t get the votes.”

Unlike former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had time and the ability to negotiate committee assignments and rules, Jordan had neither.

Colorado Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo said she was prepared for more votes. 

“We feel like we’re in a little bit of a limbo and at the mercy of people that just absolutely refuse to be reasonable about the approach to the Work that the House needs to be doing around Israel, around Ukraine, around avoiding a government shutdown,” she said, while going into the vote. “Instead of focusing on that, I think they’re just going to grind down people’s spirits.”

The 18th speaker roll call vote of the 118th congress did have some moments of levity, including when a Republican voted from the Democratic side of the chamber and then vice versa, which helped alleviate a pinch of tension in the chamber.