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Jordan Set To Pause Speaker Balloting, Support Temporary Powers For McHenry

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


It is expected that Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan will announce that he will not seek a third ballot in the speaker race and will instead support a plan to let Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) run the House temporarily.

A source with knowledge reportedly told Politico that the proposal to empower McHenry, who didn’t seek the speakership, was crafted by moderates who were against Jordan becoming speaker.

“Jordan’s decision came as House Republicans gathered for a closed-door member meeting with his allies attempting to rescue a sputtering effort that lost — rather than gained — votes on Wednesday. His embrace of a vote on the proposal to empower McHenry isn’t entirely surprising, since he indicated as much on Wednesday,” Politico reported.

The outlet added: “But Jordan is still not indicating where his latest maneuver will leave his flailing speakership bid, since temporarily boosting McHenry doesn’t fully solve the House GOP’s broader speakership chaos. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), author of the plan to empower McHenry until Jan. 3. Joyce added that he hopes to see a majority of House Republicans support his idea. Democrats are also expected to back it in significant numbers in a bid to reopen the shuttered chamber, though party leaders have not decided whether to formally whip the vote.”

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who led the revolt that toppled Kevin McCarthy as speaker, said he would do “everything” to stop Joyce from giving power to Rep. Patrick McHenry.

On Thursday he said that doing so would be “twisting and torturing the constitution to empower a temporary speaker.”

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Even though Jordan and his allies have lost two-floor votes in the speakership battle, they insist he will not give up the fight for good. His opponents, who on Wednesday numbered 22, have more than enough strength to defeat him, however.

Many Republicans believe Jordan’s bid for speaker is dead in the water, and several of those lawmakers have stated emphatically that he would lose even more votes in a third vote on the floor. Conservatives’ pressure campaign has only backfired, and even Jordan’s supporters admit that he probably can’t win over his opponents.

“If you look at the mix of who is voting against him now, it’s more the senior members. And they’re just resolved and they’re not going to take that,” said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), who backs Jordan but has flirted with throwing his hat in the ring if the Ohioan withdraws.

McHenry presided over the Speaker vote on Tuesday, where House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) received more votes than Jordan, 212-200, though 217 is needed to take the gavel.

Several Republicans voted for other GOP lawmakers, including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), for a combined 20 votes.

“Centrist Republicans and Democrats are once again backchanneling about a possible vote to strengthen McHenry’s abilities to bring legislation to the floor — particularly spending bills, given a Nov. 17 funding deadline — amid the weeks-long impasse in selecting a speaker,” Politico reported.

“They’re pushing a short-term measure that would grant McHenry added powers and could pass the House by majority vote, though they have not coalesced around specific language,” the news outlet added.

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Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced a resolution on Wednesday to empower McHenry for the short term. “By formally electing him, we as a body give him the power to move legislation to the floor for consideration,” he wrote in a letter to House colleagues.

Jordan lost a second vote for speaker of the House on Wednesday, leaving many to wonder if he has any chance of succeeding in the face of strong opposition and the House’s continued inability to function. He lost the Wednesday vote by a larger margin than on Tuesday.

The chamber is effectively paralyzed in the absence of a speaker, a perilous situation given the ongoing conflict abroad and the looming possibility of a government shutdown next month.

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