WASHINGTON – Majority Leader Steve Scalise emerged from the Republican House Conference’s closed-door vote Wednesday as the party’s nominee to run for speaker of the House.
Scalise of Louisiana secured the nomination over House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, 113-98.
Although Scalise won the party’s nomination, he still had to face a vote of the full House and could need the votes of 217 Republicans to win the speakership. Still, the nomination today suggested that Republicans could leave the chaos of the last week behind and get back to leading the House.
Just hours before, it looked like Republicans would not be able to quickly coalesce around a candidate. Wednesday morning, Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., told reporters that she did not know who she was voting for but, “At this point in time, no candidate has the majority of the requisite number of votes.”
“We have a very long day ahead,” Cammack said.
Yet, Scalise left last night’s party forum and entered today’s vote projecting confidence that a nominee would be secured within the day: “We’re going to get this done tomorrow and the House is going to get back to work,” he said.
As of Wednesday evening, it was unclear when the vote for speaker would take place. Democrats would join Republicans to vote on their new nominee.
Scalise laid out his plans for his first day if he were confirmed as speaker. “The first order of business under Speaker Steve Scalise will be to create a strong resolution, expressing support for Israel. We’ve got a very bipartisan bill, the McCaul-Meeks Resolution, ready to go,” Scalise said Wednesday.
Scalise was joined by other GOP members, including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, in his condemnation of Hamas’ attack on Israel and the need for Congress to get back to work.
McCarthy was ousted from his position last week when eight GOP-dissenters and Democrats voted him out. The Republicans rejected him after he aligned with Democrats to avert a shutdown by passing a bill to keep the government funded for a month and a half.
On Wednesday, he said he stood behind his decision to avert a government shutdown and “would do it again,” if it meant putting the needs of the American people before the party.
“So whoever takes the job, I want them to make this commitment to the American people, they’re going to do what’s right. Even if it risks their job to do it,” McCarthy said.