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Majority Leader Scalise defeats Jordan in battle for GOP nomination for House speaker

Scalise won the nomination with 113 votes and it now heads to the House floor where he needs 217 votes to officially become the next House speaker

Published: October 11, 2023 1:12pm

Updated: October 11, 2023 4:03pm

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise defeated fellow GOP Congressman Jim Jordan on Wednesday in the speaker election before the House GOP conference, following the House vote to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from the speakership post.

The vote was 113-99.

The closed-door meeting where Scalise won the speaker nomination took place on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Prior to the election for speaker, the House GOP conference considered a rule change that would increase the threshold needed to win the speaker nomination from a majority of the GOP conference to a simple majority of 217 votes. The change would likely have avoided the speaker vote on the House floor from going multiple rounds like it did in January with McCarthy's nomination. The motion to raise the threshold was tabled at the meeting.

It is still unclear at this time when the House floor vote for speaker will take place. GOP leaders decided not to hold the vote on Wednesday. Scalise, who started as a congressman in 2008, needs 217 votes on the House floor to become speaker, meaning the 99 who voted for Jordan would have to cross over and support him. Scalise would have to pick up another 5 votes from Republicans who chose a different candidate in the secret ballot or abstained from voting.

Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, said he plans to vote for Jordan on the House floor.

"Leader Scalise won and it's not over. I'm still throwing my support behind Jim Jordan for Speaker. I'm not going to change my vote now or anytime soon on the House floor," he said after the election. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., also said she would vote for Jordan on the floor.

“I like Steve Scalise, and I like him so much that I want to see him defeat cancer more than sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress. I lost my father to cancer and it’s a very serious battle,” she wrote on X.

“We need a Speaker who is able to put their full efforts into defeating the communist democrats and save America. We must stop funding foreign wars - Ukraine. We must stop the weaponized government and hold them accountable. We must secure our border. We must protect our kids. And we need a full leadership team dedicated to this fight in these unprecedented times,” she added.

Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, made their pitches and took questions at a candidate forum on Tuesday evening, which multiple GOP lawmakers had said didn't yield a clear frontrunner. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced the motion to vacate that chair that passed and resulted in the removal of McCarthy last week. Following the speaker vote on Wednesday, he said: "I'm excited for him. I can't wait to go vote for Steve Scalise. Long live Speaker Scalise."

Now that Scalise has won the speaker nomination, both Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the current House majority whip, are in the running for House majority leader, according to a source close to the process. 

It has not been decided who will succeed Scalise as majority leader should he win the speakership.

"Now is NOT the time to be campaigning for other leadership positions, House Republicans must work to unite to elect the Speaker - and that is my focus as Conference Chair at this important time," House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X on Wednesday.

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