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Scalise withdraws from Speaker race, U.S. House Republicans remain divided

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., is trailed by reporters as he arrives to meet with the House Republican Conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. A majority of Republicans have chosen Scalise as their nominee for speaker, defeating Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, but he is still short of the votes he will need on the floor to win the gavel. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

No clear frontrunner as the Louisiana Congressman could not unite the Republican Conference after winning the nomination the day before. The U.S. House enters its 10th day with no Speaker.

Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the House Republican Majority Leader, has withdrawn his bid to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House a day after the House Republican Conference voted 113-99 to back him as their nominee.

“I just shared with my colleagues that I was withdrawing my name as a candidate for our Speaker designee,” Scalise told reporters after a Thursday evening meeting of the GOP Conference, adding, “There are still some people that have their own agendas.”

In the hours after the closed-door meeting on Tuesday, Scalise was unable to unite the GOP as more than enough members announced that they would not vote for him on the House floor if the vote was called.

A potential Speaker needs to reach the 217-vote threshold in the 433-member House. Republicans currently hold a 221 to 212 seat majority, with two vacancies. This means whoever the Speaker nominee may be, he/she can only stand to lose four votes from their own party.

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan remains in contention for Speaker but there is concern that he cannot garner enough votes on the floor to win the bid.

The House is entering its tenth day without a Speaker after Kevin McCarthy was ousted last week when eight Republican members and all Democrats joined to approve a motion to vacate the chair, the first time such an action was taken in the House in U.S. history.

Democrats have again nominated their conference leader for Speaker, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. However, unless five Republicans crossover to support him, Jeffries’ nomination is purely symbolic for Democrats as it was when they ran him against McCarthy in January’s 15-rounds of Speaker voting.

A compromise option has been floated by certain members to have current Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry named Speaker for a specified time or temporarily expand his powers as Speaker Pro Tem to allow the House to return to order. That does not appear to have widespread support as of now.

Business has all but halted in the chamber as members wait on the Republican Conference to mend its divisions and choose a Speaker designee that can win on the floor. The most pressing item on tap is the 45-day stopgap funding measure that was approved in the waning hours before the start of the fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown. It runs out on November 17th.

The House Republican Conference is set to meet again Friday morning to continue deliberations in hopes of naming a viable option for Speaker. Hopes of a quick resolution are not high.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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