FILE—Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., confer during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Scalise bested Jordan by 14 votes in the House Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday. The Louisiana Congressman will need 217 votes to be the next Speaker.
Last week, California Republican Kevin McCarthy was ousted as Speaker of the U.S. House after eight members of his caucus forced a vote on a motion to vacate the chair. The eight, along with all Democrats in the chamber, voted to vacate, making McCarthy the first Speaker to be removed in U.S. history.
Since then, the Republican Conference has been circling the wagons to find a new Speaker nominee. Two names emerged above all others – House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio.
In a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, the House Republican Conference voted 113-99 to back Scalise for Speaker.
However, GOP members must now whip votes ahead of bringing the Speaker vote to the floor as four defections could throw a wrench in the proceedings as they did previously with McCarthy.
Scalise and his backers must unify Republicans long enough to reach the 217-vote threshold in the 433-member House. Republicans currently hold a 221 to 212 seat majority, with two vacancies.
All three of Mississippi’s Republican Congressmen – Trent Kelly (MS-1), Michael Guest (MS-3), and Mike Ezell (MS-4) – are expected to support Scalise’s nomination for Speaker.
Scalise rose to national notoriety in 2017 when he was shot at a baseball field while practicing for the annual Congressional charity baseball game. A gunman opened fire on Scalise and others, including Mississippi’s Congressman Kelly, as Congressional Republicans met to practice. Scalise’s recovery and return to Congress following the shooting took months.
The Louisiana Congressman who was first elected in 2008 is now facing another health battle. Scalise announced in August that had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He described as “a very treatable blood cancer” at the time he disclosed his diagnosis.
Democrats, as they did when McCarthy was elected after 15 rounds of voting in January, have nominated their leader Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Mississippi’s lone Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-2) will likely back Jeffries as his party’s nominee.
A vote on the floor of the House is expected before the end of the week assuming the House Republican Conference believes they have the votes to move Scalise forward.