Republican Rep. Jim Jordan failed Friday for the third time to win the speaker’s gavel, faring worse in the latest round of voting than he had in two previous failed votes.
House Republicans convened a closed-door meeting following Jordan’s failed speaker vote. The GOP conference is currently voting in a secret ballot election on whether Jordan should stay in the race or drop out, according to Rep. Troy Nehls – a move that comes as some Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated with the Ohio Republican for refusing to drop out even as his bid falters.
In Friday’s vote, 25 House Republicans voted against Jordan – a higher number than in the two prior votes and far more than the handful of defectors Jordan can afford to lose and still win the gavel given the GOP’s narrow majority.
But, despite facing steep opposition and no clear path to the speakership, Jordan has so far defiantly vowed to remain in the race. After Friday’s failed vote, he once again made clear he is not backing down as he downplayed his latest defeat.
“We only lost a couple,” he said, adding that he will keep trying to get more votes. House Republicans are expected to hold a closed-door conference meeting at 1 p.m. ET.
The battle for the speakership has now dragged on for more than two weeks with no end in sight. Jordan’s struggle to win the gavel has also highlighted the limits of former President Donald Trump’s influence in the speaker’s race after he endorsed Jordan.
The House remains effectively frozen as long as there is no elected speaker – a perilous situation as Congress faces an impending government funding deadline and the threat of a shutdown.
The speaker vacuum triggered by the historic ouster of Kevin McCarthy led by a bloc of hardline conservatives also comes as Israel is at war with Hamas and Ukraine fights against Russian aggression.
In the first round of voting for a new speaker, 20 House Republicans voted for someone else. In the second round, that number rose to 22.
On Friday, the vote count against Jordan increased to 25 House Republicans. There were three new GOP votes in opposition – Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Tom Kean of New Jersey and Marc Molinaro of New York.
Kean said in a statement explaining his position, “it has become evident that Chairman Jordan does not and will not have the votes to become Speaker.”
In a sign that Jordan could lose even more support if he continues to hold votes, Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas, who voted for Jordan in the last three rounds, told CNN that he will vote for Trump if there’s another speaker ballot. “My next vote will be for Donald J. Trump,” he said.
GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Flordia said that the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy sent a letter to their colleagues encouraging them to vote for Jordan for speaker and that they are willing to “accept some consequence” to get them to do so.
“If what these holdouts need is a pound of our flesh, we’re willing to give it to them in order to see the election of Jordan for speaker,” Gaetz said just after the failed vote.
In terms of specific consequences, Gaetz said they “are willing to accept censure, sanction, suspension, removal from the Republican conference. We of course will remain Republicans; we will continue to vote with Republicans on Republican principles.”
Some Republicans who oppose Jordan have decried what they described as a pressure campaign against them by allies of the Ohio Republican. And several Republicans who opposed Jordan’s speakership bid have said they experienced angry calls, menacing messages and even death threats since casting their votes. Jordan has condemned the threats.
A closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Thursday turned heated, multiple sources told CNN. Some members encouraged Jordan to drop out of the race. There was also an emotional discussion over the threats some Jordan holdouts are facing. Later, members leaving the meeting described it as an airing of grievances with tensions running high.
Some Republicans looking for a way to break the impasse have suggested expanding the powers of interim Speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry – a controversial move that would put the House even further into uncharted territory. But there is widespread opposition within the Republican conference to the idea.