Follow Us

McCarthy redux? Scalise faces uphill battle to reach 217 votes for speaker as more defectors emerge

Scalise won the speaker nomination during a closed-door secret ballot election on Wednesday with 113 votes — 104 votes shy of 217 needed to win on the House floor.

Published: October 11, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: October 12, 2023 8:09am

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise's nomination for House speaker is on its way to the House floor but he needs to pick up 104 votes from Republicans to win the speakership with a simple majority of 217 votes.

Scalise won the speaker nomination during a closed-door, secret ballot election on Wednesday with 113 votes compared to 99 for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-Oh). There were 10 other GOP votes that went to other candidates in the secret ballot election.

It appears that Scalise may have a tough time gaining the support of all 99 lawmakers who backed Jordan. Even if he is able to do so, he still needs 5 more GOP lawmakers to side with him after they voted for a different candidate in the secret ballot election.

At least eight GOP House members so far have said they intend to vote for Jordan instead of Scalise on the House floor. Reps. Lauren Boebert, (R-Co.), Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-Ga.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Troy Nehls (R-Texas), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) and Max Miller, (R-Ohio) have all publicly announced they will vote for Jordan in the general speaker race. GOP leaders have held off on scheduling the full floor vote for now.

"In conference, Jordan received 99 votes and Scalise received 113. We had a chance to unify the party behind closed doors, but the Swamp and K Street lobbyists prevented that," Boebert, who voted against removing McCarthy as speaker, wrote on X. "The American people deserve a real change in leadership, not a continuation of the status quo."

Rep. Thomas Massie, (R-Ky.), who voted against ousting McCarthy, announced he will not vote for Scalise. 

"Surprises are for little kids at birthday parties, not Congress. So, I let Scalise know in person that he doesn’t have my vote on the floor, because he has not articulated a viable plan for avoiding an omnibus," he said.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-Fla.), introduced the motion to vacate that chair that passed with eight GOP votes and all Democrat votes, resulting in the removal of McCarthy last week. Gaetz said he plans to vote for Scalise on the floor.

"I'm excited for him. I can't wait to go vote for Steve Scalise. Long live Speaker Scalise," he told the press.

The GOP has a slim majority of 221 compared to 212 for the Democrats. Their majority could be cut to 220 if Rep. George Santos, (R-NY.), abstains from voting due to the additional 10 federal charges against him that were announced on Tuesday evening.

For comparison, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had 188 GOP votes before his nomination went to the House floor — 75 more votes than Scalise has secured so far. Rep. Andy Biggs, (R-Az.), former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, received 33 votes. The election of McCarthy to the speaker's chair lasted a historic 15 rounds.

Jordan has urged his backers to support Scalise on the House floor, according to a source close to the process. However, Jordan had publicly endorsed McCarthy for speaker and even nominated him on the House floor during the marathon speaker election in January but it still lasted 15 rounds due to a handful of conservative holdouts. 

House Democratic leaders have said their entire caucus plans to vote for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, (D-NY.), on the House floor.

Prior to the election for speaker at Wednesday's GOP conference meeting, lawmakers considered a rule change that would have increased 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 lasting multiple rounds like it did in January with McCarthy's nomination. The motion to raise the threshold was tabled at the meeting, Just the News has learned.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reacted to the news of Scalise's nomination, saying she hopes the House GOP "stops the chaos" and selects the "speaker of their choosing so that we can move forward and do the people's business."

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook


Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News