Representative Steve Scalise She announced her withdrawal from the speakership race Thursday after House Republicans failed to rally behind Kevin McCarthy after his historic ouster.
“I have shared with my colleagues that I am withdrawing my name as a speaker designee candidate,” the Louisiana Republican told reporters.
“If you look at where our conference is there is still work to be done. Our conference has yet to come together and is not there,” he said. “There are still some people who have their own agendas, and I’ve been very clear that everybody has to put their agendas aside and focus on what this country needs. This country hopes that we will be reunited. This House of Representatives needs a Speaker, and we need to reopen the House, but Clearly not everyone, and there are still divisions to be resolved.
The move deepens the House GOP leadership crisis, and it’s unclear whether there is a viable candidate who can win the 217 votes. Republicans will now have to struggle to find a path forward.
House Republicans met behind closed doors for more than two hours in the afternoon, where the majority leader urged his opponents to explain their opposition to him before the conference. After the meeting, Scalise huddled in his office with his opponents. Republicans scheduled a second members-only convention for Thursday evening.
But opposition to Scalise as the next speaker only grew Thursday, with roughly 20 Republicans publicly opposing him. Scalise needs a majority of the House to be elected speaker, meaning he can lose by just four votes.
The impasse is leading to intense frustration as the House GOP is no closer to coalescing around a speaker nominee. Many Republicans described Thursday’s meeting as a venting session that was not very productive. Many said that no one could get the required 217 votes.
“It’s frivolous, and I’m tired of it,” said Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a New York Republican. “We all share our feelings, but the reality is we still have to get to 217.”
After winning the GOP convention vote for speaker over Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, 113-99, Scalise’s math problem quickly became apparent. Many of Jordan’s supporters immediately said they would not vote for Scalise on the floor, and that number is growing by the day.
“I’m not on the whip team, but I can count the votes, and there’s a big gap right now,” said Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee, one of the Republicans who said he was voting for Jordan.
Even former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy touted Scalise’s chances, saying in a Fox News interview on Thursday that it would be “difficult” for Scalise to win the speakership and how he was “going to make a decision soon.” to continue.
“He has an uphill battle to go. His numbers coming out of the convention were very low,” McCarthy said. “If you take out three delegates, he doesn’t have a majority there. So it will be difficult for him.
Scalise, who left the first convention meeting Thursday, said he would meet with smaller groups in the convention to try to resolve the impasse before going to the floor for a vote.
“I am not cutting any deals. “I want to continue to work to meet in front of all of our members, answer every question, bring our conference together, unify, and address issues as they arise,” Scalise said. “I’ve taken every question that everybody has brought up and we’re going to continue this process. As we grow our support, we’re going to try to resolve this and get the council up and running again.
The House was adjourned on Thursday without a vote being taken. It is not yet clear when the vote for the Speaker will be held.
Late Wednesday, members of the convention began weighing how to handle the potential collapse of his bid, with several GOP sources saying they believe they should consider a new candidate who has yet to run for speaker.
Scalise or any other Republican candidate needs 217 votes to win Speaker’s Cavell, a majority of the entire House, currently with two vacancies. That means Scalise could only lose four Republicans if every member voted. Democrats are expected to uniformly support House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Many Republicans felt there was no candidate at this point who could win the votes of a nearly fractured GOP convention.
“There is no Paul Ryan in this facility. Both are very viable candidates,” said Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massey said.
A representative from Texas is expected to support Scalise. Dan Crenshaw was critical that members would not vote for Scalise.
“I think they should all resign from their congressional posts if they don’t get 100% of the vote in their district,” he told CNN.
Jordan said Thursday that Republicans must rally around Scalise. “I do, I’ve been clear about that since yesterday,” Jordan said.
But pressed on whether he would rule out taking the job if Scalise can’t get there, Jordan didn’t give a clear answer. “I will nominate Steve on the floor and hope we can unite around a speaker,” the Ohio Republican said.
Former President Donald Trump, who supported Jordan, expressed sadness over Scalise’s speakership in an interview on Fox News radio, pointing to the House majority leader’s recent cancer diagnosis.
“I don’t know how you can get the job done when you have such a serious problem,” Trump said.
Opposition to Scalise within his own party has cast doubt on how Republicans will extricate themselves from the speaker conundrum that has left them unable to govern.
While there was some hope on Capitol Hill that the weekend’s brutal attack on Israel would prompt Republicans to quickly pick a leader — House lawmakers were given a secret briefing on Israel on Wednesday before a conference vote on the speaker — deep divisions in the conference that led to McCarthy’s ouster last week have now stalled the search for a new speaker. .
As the number of holdouts moves in the wrong direction, some House Republicans are weighing whether it’s time to turn to other options as pressure mounts to address pressing needs such as war and government funding in Israel.
Some lawmakers are suggesting that if Scalise can’t get there soon, they should stop the new nominee.
GOP Rep. Mark Green said if Scalise can’t get the votes, “someone else has to step up.”
Another idea that surfaced during the closed-door conference call was for Republicans to try to expand the powers of Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina so the House can pass legislation like the Israel resolution, several lawmakers told CNN.
GOP Rep. of Arkansas. “It’s an option we can pursue,” Steve Womack told reporters.
Centrist Republicans are circulating a letter urging McHenry to have more temporary power, sources told CNN — a sign of the GOP’s desperation to unite around a speaker.
Separately, some House Democrats have begun preliminary conversations with some Republicans about who would be interested in working with them if Scalise leaves, a source familiar with the conversations told CNN.
One of the Republican Democrats will be interested in House Rules Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma. But no deal with Republicans will come for free, and Democrats have said major concessions are needed for any talks to become real.
Even the support Scalise won has proven fickle. On Wednesday, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna said she felt “comfortable” supporting his speaker nomination after meeting with Scalise and talking to him about the oversight committee’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
But Luna, who left Thursday’s meeting, said she no longer supports Scalise. “Now we need someone who can unify the party, and now we don’t have 217 candidates,” the Florida Republican said.
While many Scalise holdouts say they support Jordan, many Republicans don’t think Jordan is a viable replacement after he lost the nomination race to Scalise, and some Republicans were annoyed he didn’t act immediately. Closer teams behind Scalise
“If Scalise doesn’t win, the next person gets less votes,” Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Ballard said of Jordan. “And, I think, more controversial.” So it may not be a good thing for this place.
Rep. Erin Houchin, Republican of Indiana, said she didn’t know “whether it’s going to be Jordan or Scalise or anybody else.”
“I think we’re in uncharted territory, and it’s going to be very difficult to predict,” he said.
This story and topic have been updated to include additional improvements.