After Kevin McCarthy was removed as the Speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, top Republicans including Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise have thrown their hats into the race to replace him, while several others have been floated as potential successors.
McCarthy was removed from office following the passage of a motion to vacate the chair proposed by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Flordia, in a bipartisan vote of 216 to 210, with several Republicans being joined by all Democrats to vote to remove him. Following McCarthy’s announcement that he will not seek re-election as Speaker, top Republicans are vying to take on the job.
Jordan is currently the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and formerly led the Freedom Caucus. In January, opponents of McCarthy repeatedly nominated Jordan to serve as speaker, though he declined and voted for McCarthy instead.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 4, 2023
On Wednesday, Jordan announced that he would enter the race. “Yes,” he told reporters as he exited the Speaker’s suite at the Capitol building when asked if he was running.
Jordan has cultivated a prominent national profile among conservatives during his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, in which he has held oversight hearings with Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray and IRS investigators Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, two whistleblowers who alleged misconduct by the agency to stifle investigations into Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden. Jordan is also a close ally of former President Donald Trump, having received from him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Jan. 6, 2021.
Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Mike Braun, endorsed Jordan’s candidacy on Wednesday in a post on Twitter, now known as X. “When it comes to negotiating on behalf of the House GOP Majority with the Senate and White House, I can’t think of anyone stronger than Jim Jordan to be our next Speaker of the House. He never backs down and has my full support,” he said.
Jordan was also endorsed by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who tweeted “I support Jim Jordan for Speaker.”
Scalise, who represents Louisiana’s 1st district, is currently the House Majority Leader, the second-highest position in the House Republican Conference. He announced his candidacy on Tuesday in a letter to colleagues.
“The stages of grief are in progress, right now. We appear to be headed towards bargaining. I think the world of Steve Scalise. I think he would make a phenomenal speaker,” Gaetz told the DCNF at a press scrum following Tuesday’s vote. A spokesperson for Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia told the DCNF that he supports Scalise as the next speaker.
Scalise was also endorsed by Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas on Twitter.
Scalise is currently undergoing treatment for blood cancer and has been absent from most recent proceedings of the House.
Were Scalise to be elected speaker, he would be placed third in the presidential line of succession. Congressional leaders have previously averred from choosing individuals with health concerns for such posts, with the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who suffered shingles and cognitive issues, being denied the position of President pro tempore of the Senate — which is fourth in line to the presidency — in favor of Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, during the 118th Congress.
Hern, from Oklahoma, is the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which develops policies for the House Republican Conference to consider. On Tuesday, Hern’s office confirmed the DCNF that he would be meeting with members of the Texas Republican Congressional delegation to gauge their support for his bid.
In January, Hern was nominated and received votes for the speakership by detractors of McCarthy, though he never announced his candidacy for the position.
McHenry, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is currently the Speaker pro tempore of the House, performing the duties of the office until a new speaker is elected. It is unclear whether McHenry would be able to receive a majority of votes from the House Republican Conference, with Gaetz pejoratively calling him the “architect of McCarthy’s debt limit deal” during the debate on Tuesday’s motion.
McHenry along with Republican Rep. Garrett Graves of Louisiana were deputized as McCarthy’s chief negotiators with the White House in May over an agreement to raise the U.S. debt limit and prevent a sovereign default. The result of those negotiations was the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which suspended the limit until 2025 and was strongly criticized by Gaetz.
“There would have to be a real meeting of the minds,” Gaetz told the DCNF when asked about whether he’d support McHenry for the job.
Following McCarthy’s removal, several House Republicans said that Trump should become the speaker to unify the conference, even on a short-term basis.
“The only candidate for Speaker I am currently supporting is President Donald J. Trump,” tweeted Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who voted against Gaetz’s motion, adding that “[h]e will end the war in Ukraine. He will secure the border. He will end the politically weaponized government … We can make him Speaker and then elect him President!”
Trump was also endorsed by Republican Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who voted to support McCarthy on Tuesday. The U.S. Constitution does not impose any qualifications on speakers of the House, including that they be elected members of the body, making Trump eligible for the role.
However, on Wednesday, Trump played down speculation that he would be speaker, saying that he would do “whatever is best for the country and the Republican Party” but that he was focused on the presidential election.
Trump’s campaign, Scalise, Jordan, McHenry and Stefanik did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Arjun Singh on October 4, 2023