Republican Rep. Jim Jordan has backed off of the idea of a temporary promotion for Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry, instead declaring that a third ballot for the speakership would be held, according to CSPAN video.
Speaking very briefly to reporters, Jordan said, “We made the pitch to members on the resolution [to empower McHenry] as a way to lower the temperature and get back to work.
“We decided that wasn’t where we were going to go,” he added in the video, posted by Benny Johnson to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“I’m still running for speaker, and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race, but I want to talk with a few of my colleagues.”
“Particularly, I want to talk with the 20 individuals who voted against me so that we can move forward and begin to work for the American people,” he concluded as he began to walk away from the microphones.
As he departed, a reporter asked if the third ballot would be held today, but Jordan didn’t respond. Nick Sortor posted to X that Rep. Matt Gaetz expected that ballot Thursday evening after being nominated by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Jordan had earlier in the day sided with some Republican House members to try to enact what Gaetz had labeled a “constitutional desecration.”
After failing on a second ballot to garner enough votes to become speaker of the House, Jordan endorsed the idea of expanding McHenry’s powers for a limited time to allow some of the work of the House to continue until someone wins the chair, according to The Hill.
It was not at all clear Thursday afternoon whether such a resolution could even pass the House, but Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick said Thursday morning that House members went into the second ballot knowing that the ultimate outcome would be granting McHenry temporary powers as what Rep. Matt Gaetz later referred to as “speaker-lite.”
Prediction from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to me this morning: "We all know where this always was going to land, with Speaker Pro Tem McHenry being empowered on a short term basis." He guessed this would happen in "the next 48 hours."
The Republican conference meets again at 11.
— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) October 19, 2023
The proposal apparently under consideration — the one Fitzpatrick considered inevitable — was to vote McHenry temporary powers that would be largely the same as those of a normally elected speaker, but only through some point in January.
He also would not be in the line of presidential succession as speakers typically are.
A number of House Republicans went on the record quickly to oppose the idea, including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Greene wrote “Our conference must unite and elect a full-term Republican Speaker,” in a post to X, expressing her support for Jordan.
I will vote NO on a resolution to empower a short-term Speaker.
I’m not sharing our power with Democrats, after our voters gave us the majority.
Republicans working with Democrats is how we got here.
Our conference must unite and elect a full-term Republican Speaker.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene???????? (@RepMTG) October 19, 2023
It was unclear when Greene wrote “Republicans working with Democrats is how we got here” whether she was referring to McCarthy’s negotiations with the Biden White House and House Democrats or Gaetz and seven other House Republicans siding with the entire House Democratic caucus to oust the former speaker.
The Hill cited Republican Reps. Tim Burchett, Pat Fallon, Scott Perry and Chip Roy as also being clearly against any sort of limited speakership for McHenry.
The strongest opposition voiced may have come from Gaetz himself, the man who started all this.
“I’m against speaker-lite,” Gaetz told a reporter when asked about granting McHenry additional powers. “I’m against Bud Lite. I believe it is a constitutional desecration to not elect a speaker of the House. We need to stay here until we elect a speaker.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on resolution to empower Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry: “I am against speaker-light, I am against Bud Light, I believe it is a constitutional desecration not to elect a speaker of the House” and continued to say he would do anything in his power to stop it. pic.twitter.com/qd8smDIWuZ
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 19, 2023
With at least six Republicans vocally against the proposal, Republicans could only have gotten 215 votes if every other member of their caucus supported it. It’s likely, therefore, that they would have needed to bargain for some Democratic votes to make that happen.
Jordan never said what he would be willing to offer Democrats in exchange for their votes to empower a “speaker-lite.” Nor had he ever dropped out of the race. The Ohio Republican remains the party’s speaker-designee — at least for now.
????LEAKED – FL Rep @VernBuchanan, who now refuses to vote for Jim Jordan for Speaker, was partying last night at the White House bowling alley
He’s been in DC for 8 terms and is now clearly part of the Swamp
He’d rather party w/Dems than listen to his voters
FL deserves better! pic.twitter.com/0GGcXLsw6i
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) October 19, 2023