WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., emerged from a crowded field of candidates Tuesday to become the Republican nominee for speaker.
Emmer, the No. 3 Republican in the leadership and the GOP’s top vote-getter, defeated GOP Convention Vice Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La., in the fifth and final round of internal voting. The vote was 117 to 97, with five Republicans voting for other candidates, lawmakers said.
Emmer’s appointment comes three weeks after California Republican Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the speaker’s office — the first time in history that a sitting speaker has been removed. According to Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., Emmer told colleagues Tuesday afternoon that he wanted to hold a speaker vote.
But like the party’s two previous nominees — Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio — there is no guarantee that Emmer will need the 217 votes on the House floor.
“It’s the third time’s a charm or three strikes you’re out!” Rep. Mark Molinaro, RN.Y., said of the situation.
After Emmer’s victory, House Republicans held a separate, secret vote to see if 217 members were willing to support Emmer on the floor. Leaving the meeting, Rep. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said it’s clear that Emmer falls well short of that number.
“It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is no one in that room who can get 217 votes as we speak,” Womack told reporters.
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., told reporters that “there are some holdouts” and estimated there were about 10 of them.
After Jordan bowed out on Friday, nine speaker hopefuls threw their hat in the ring for a third round. But during Monday night’s candidate forum, Meuser abruptly left, minutes before Tuesday’s votes were to be counted, leaving Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., with seven candidates.
Tuesday’s nomination took place in a secret ballot and behind closed doors in a cavernous passageways and material hearing room in a building named after the late former Speaker Nicholas Longworth.
The candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated to win the seven-man list. In Tuesday’s first round of voting, Rep. R-Texas. Pete Sessions, former Rules Committee Chairman.
Rep. Jake Bergman, R-Mich., was voted in next, followed by Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., who dropped out in the third round. R-Fla. and Kevin Hearn, R-Okla. The two representatives were tied for the last time in the fourth round. Donalds dropped out of the race, lawmakers said, so Hearn was kicked out.
Emmer dominated the previous round of votes by a wide margin and won support from a majority of lawmakers in the chamber on the fifth ballot.
A GOP civil war prevented Republicans from agreeing on McCarthy’s successor. The GOP’s previous two picks failed to get the votes needed to win the floor, leaving the House in unprecedented chaos, a government shutdown and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East within a month.
“The world is burning around us, and American leadership is essential. If the House of Representatives doesn’t act, you can’t have the full share of American leadership,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press NOW,” urging his colleagues to move. A new Unite around the leader.
“The world is watching; Our enemies are paying attention. It does not reflect well on the democratic institutions we have all pledged to protect,” he added. “So again, let’s hope and pray it’s this week.”
With Republicans’ razor-thin majority and Democrats coalescing behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Emmer will need the support of 217 of the 221 GOP lawmakers.
It’s not clear that Emmer can clear that high barrier. Some lawmakers, including Reps. Ralph Norman, R-Texas, and Chip Roy, R-Texas, told reporters Monday when colleagues met that they would not sign a “solidarity” pledge supporting a speaker-appointed speaker. was
“I’m not going to do it,” said Norman, a member of the Freedom Committee.
Former President Donald Trump, the GOP’s most powerful figure, had previously endorsed Jordan for speaker, but he stayed neutral this round. However, several other candidates, including Emmer, Johnson and Hearn, said they spoke with Trump on the phone recently, and he acknowledged the difficulty of getting the 217 votes in the House.
“That floor door is so tough. I said there’s only one person who can do this. You know who that is? Jesus Christ,” Trump said Monday during a visit to New Hampshire. “If he comes down and says, ‘I want to be speaker,’ he’ll do it, and other than that, I don’t see anybody who can guarantee that.”
Notably, at a recent GOP meeting, one lawmaker stood up and said that even Jesus could not be elected speaker in this majority, Rep. According to Mark Alford.