House Republicans are slowly knocking out candidates for speaker during a series of secret ballot votes to determine their next speaker nominee after 21 days of dysfunction.
The lawmakers insisted Monday evening that there was a glimmer of hope they may have a speaker by Tuesday night three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s ousting caused chaos in the House GOP.
The speaker race has thrown the Republican Party into disarray and left Congress paralyzed and unable to do business with less than a month until the government runs out of money again.
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., dropped out of the originally nine-way race at the start of the Republican candidate forum last night because he didn’t have the support needed to contend. And Tuesday morning, Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., was the next to bow out saying if his withdrawal will ‘help expedite’ the process, he would ‘gladly’ step aside.
During the first vote Tuesday, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, was knocked out of the running after receiving only eight votes. Majority Whip Tom Emmer – the frontrunner – received 78, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., got 34, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., got 29, and Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., got 28. Reps. Jack Bergman of Michigan and Austin Scott of Georgia trailed behind the pack.
Bergman was dropped after getting seven votes during the second vote, leaving five names left heading into the third round. Emmer notably increased his support to 90 votes, while Johnson got 37 followed by Donalds at 33, Hern at 31, and Scott at 14.
Rep. Byron Donalds arrives at a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning
Whip Tom Emmer is an early favorite in the speaker’s race as he arrives at the Republican conference meeting Tuesday morning
Despite the farce of the last 21 days, some party members were optimistic that they could reach a resolution and get back to work.
‘I think we’re gonna solve this by tomorrow night,’ Rep. Don Bacon, a moderate Nebraskan who voted against Jordan last week, told reporters Monday.
Asked if he agreed the process would be wrapped up by Tuesday night, speaker candidate Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., told AlertContent.com: ‘I do.’
‘I think it’s possible,’ said Rep. Byron Donalds, another speaker candidate.
‘I don’t know if anybody wants to go on longer than tomorrow,’ said Rep. Pat Fallon R-Texas. ‘We report and work for the American people, and they have said, ‘Get your house in order.”
Republicans have burned through two speaker candidates since Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster. First, Majority Leader Steve Scalise won a conference vote before dropping out due to opposition. Then firebrand Republican Jim Jordan tried to for the job and lost three floor votes before being ousted as the GOP nominee Friday.
In a step towards a more unified direction, every candidate in the running pledged to back whoever wins a conference vote on the House floor.
However, not every voting member has signed that pledge. ‘I didn’t sign the pledge thing, said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who supports Donalds. ‘I think we need to focus on making sure someone’s gonna lead this party in the right direction.’
Republicans are still far off from being united behind one candidate.
Whip Tom Emmer, the House’s number three Republican, is the early favorite and already has a vote-whipping operation in place. Donalds, a Freedom Caucus member from Florida, has racked up support from the right wing of the conference.
‘Donalds has got the most raw talent of anybody up there. I think he could be president by 2030,’ said Fallon, who is endorsing GOP conference vice chair Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.
Asked if he agreed the process would be wrapped up by Tuesday night, speaker candidate Rep. Kevin Hern (right) told AlertContent.com: ‘I do.’ He is at the ongoing GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning
Rep. Steve Scalise speaks to reporters as he arrives at a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday
‘I think the headwinds that [Donalds] faces is he’s been here like three years and there may be a backlash because of the Freedom Caucus.’
Rep. Matt Gaetz said he was promised by every candidate in the room the ‘full release’ of the January 6 tapes but was ‘most heartened’ by the candidates that had plans for single subject spending bills and pledged not to link Israel and Ukraine aid.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a pragmatist from South Dakota, had less optimism about finding a speaker by Tuesday.
‘I like to be an optimist, but I would tell you the last four weeks have not provided me a lot of reason to be optimistic that Republicans are gonna have our act together. We continue to see these tight margins,’ he said.
The next Republican speaker nominee can only afford to lose four votes, which creates a nearly impossible task in a divided conference.
A handful of candidates have garnered endorsements: Whip Tom Emmer, the House’s number three Republican, has the public support of a half dozen colleagues, including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
However, Trump allies have been attacking him as an ‘anti-Trump’ candidate.
Although the former president hasn’t explicitly come out against Emmer, he amplified a Truth Social post by Laura Loomer who attacked the majority whip as a ‘Trump hating congressman.’
Trump confirmed Monday during a New Hampshire campaign stop that the pair spoke, but wouldn’t get into details saying he plans to stay above the fray.
‘I think he’s my biggest fan now because he called me yesterday. He told me, ‘I’m your biggest fan.’ So I don’t know about that,’ Trump said about Emmer.
‘There’s only one person that can do it all the way – that’s Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ came down and said I want to be speaker, he would do it. Other than that I haven’t seen anyone that can guarantee it,’ Trump added.
Emmer supporters say the push to label him as anti-Trump shows that the former president’s allies have ‘nothing left in the tank.’
It’s the same playbook they tried to use during the whip race, and it didn’t work, a source tells AlertContent.com.
Donalds has picked up support from key Freedom Caucus member, Texas Rep. Chip Roy, as well as two holdouts against Jordan: Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Gimenez, and fellow Floridian Cory Mills.
GOP Rep. Jack Bergman has picked up endorsements from a handful of fellow Michiganders.
Hern a McDonalds franchisee, passed out hamburgers and campaign literature on Monday for his bid for the job. He is also reportedly handing out personalized gifts to members in courting their vote.
A few other lesser-known names have jumped into the fray: Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., vice chair of the GOP conference, who chairs the Republican Policy Committee, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., who ran against Jordan for speaker last week, Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.