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What if? The potential ripple effect of a Jim Jordan House speakership

Jordan, current chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Steve Scalise, the current House majority leader, have each publicly declared their candidacy for House speaker. What might House leadership look like under each of these scenarios?

Published: October 6, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: October 7, 2023 7:43am

The race for the next House speaker is heating up after the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) as a planned House GOP conference closed-door candidate forum on Tuesday soon approaches. 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Oh.), the conservative House Judiciary Committee chairman and a declared speaker candidate, is currently overseeing the committee's key investigations including Hunter Biden's foreign business deals and the Biden administration's handling of the border crisis.

Jordan earned a Master’s degree in Education from Ohio State University and a law degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. In the 114th Congress, Jordan helped found the House Freedom Caucus, and served as its first Chairman.

Jordan, who started serving in the House in 2007, is also the chairman of the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which is investigating the federal government's role in censorship on social media and other Big Tech platforms.

His most likely successor as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee would be Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), sources told Just the News.

Issa's oversight experience bolsters the case for Jordan as speaker since he could pick up where Jordan left off with several investigations such as the Hunter Biden probe, a senior House GOP staffer said, adding that Jordan would "energize" the GOP conference as speaker, giving it a much needed energy boost after the removal of McCarthy.

Issa, who has endorsed Jordan for speaker, led the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as chairman from January 2011 to January 2015 during the presidency of Barack Obama. He oversaw the investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attack and the "Fast and Furious" gun running scandal.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Jordan as head of the weaponization subcommittee, a GOP aide said.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), another declared speaker candidate who is in his ninth House term since 2008, is well-liked across the House GOP conference but many Republicans view a Jordan speakership as a "fresh start," another House GOP source told Just the News.

In 2017, Scalise was shot by James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter in an attempted massacre of Republicans playing softball at the time.

Both Jordan and Scalise jumped into the speaker race following the House vote to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) from the position on Tuesday, which was triggered by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introducing a motion to vacate

In addition to Jordan and Scalise, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Ok.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was also expected to participate in a forum with the speaker candidates next Monday.

Hern has not yet publicly declared his candidacy. The forum was eventually called off after objections from House GOP members. The House GOP conference already had a closed-door candidate forum planned for Tuesday and a possible election on Wednesday. 

"I still haven’t made a decision on my candidacy for speaker, but I know one thing for sure," Hern wrote Friday on X, formerly called Twitter. "I will not be participating in the televised debate. We need to make this decision as a conference, not on TV. The Republican conference needs a family discussion."

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Mn.), the current House majority whip, confirmed on Wednesday that he is formally seeking the position of House Majority Leader and making calls to members. Emmer's name was being floated by conservatives as a potential speaker candidate but he has publicly endorsed Scalise for the speakership. Emmer started his service in the House in 2015.

"I support Steve for the speaker," he said.

When asked what he hopes to bring to the position of majority leader, he said, "I'm not going to talk about what we talk about with other members."

It is unclear if Jordan's leadership team would consist of Scalise and Emmer in their current positions should Jordan win the speakership. A House GOP source called it "premature" to speculate what the leadership team will look like before Wednesday, but noted that Jordan has a good relationship with both Scalise and Emmer.

While Jordan is already racking up endorsements from fellow House members and former President Donald Trump, the Ohio Republican might have difficulty gaining support from moderate Republicans in the caucus. He has also come out against including funding for the war in Ukraine under the appropriations bill that Congress has to pass before Nov. 17 to keep the government funded. Other Republicans support continuing to fund the war.

"I'm against that," Jordan said. "The most pressing issue on Americans' mind is not Ukraine. It is the border situation and it is crime on the streets."

Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ar.) said on Friday that Scalise is the best qualified for the speakership. "We need somebody that can unite us. We need somebody with the credentials. We need somebody with a with an operation already in place," he said on Fox News. "He has that. We need somebody that can raise money."

Some Republicans are doubtful that any sitting House member can reach 218 votes to be confirmed the next House speaker.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Ca.) has called on the 8 Republicans who voted with Democrats to oust McCarthy to "repair the damage" they have caused. McCarthy took his name out of consideration for speaker after the vote to remove him took place.

"The only workable outcome is to restore Kevin McCarthy as Speaker under party rules that respect and enforce the right of the majority party to elect him," McClintock said in a statement on Thursday. “This depends entirely on several of the dissidents to disenthrall themselves from their decision and to repair the damage before it is too late. I appeal to them to act while there is still time.”

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