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Updated Oct 19, 2023, 5:09pm EDT
North America

Jordan backs down from third ballot, will support temporary speaker

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Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio will not seek a third vote on his House speaker nomination Thursday, and instead plans to support a move that would tap Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry to lead the chamber until January, according to an aide familiar with his plans.

Jordan does not intend to drop out of the speaker race, the person said. He instead will continue trying to shore up votes until next year.

A number of Republicans have called to temporarily expand McHenry’s authority in recent days as it became clear that Jordan lacked the support to pin down the top job. The idea has also received a bipartisan push from members of the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus. Lawmakers were initially expected to vote on a measure empowering McHenry, authored by Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, this afternoon.

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Supporters of the plan say it would end the House’s paralysis and give Republicans their best shot of passing their appropriations bills this year. McHenry, who served as a top lieutenant to former speaker Kevin McCarthy, is also well liked by much of the conference and well known to Wall St., thanks to his job as chair of the House Financial Services Committee.

“He’s effective. He’s smart, he is fair. He’s ethical. He does not lie. And so if he’s empowered — I think it makes sense to empower him — to get our agenda, the Republican agenda through,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who voted against Jordan, said. “I think he’s about as good as anybody.”

The move could also potentially find broad support from Democrats. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters he could back a temporary speaker if the candidate voted to certify the 2020 elections results and promised to stick to the terms of this year’s debt ceiling deal — which McHenry helped negotiate.

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But in spite of Jordan’s blessing, the effort is already meeting some furious GOP resistance, particularly from conservatives who see McHenry as too close with previous leadership. Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz. said he saw McHenry as “McCarthy lite,” while Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Ariz. Criticized him for giving “too much away” in debt ceiling negotiations. A number of hardliners — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Chip Roy, R-Texas — have said they have no interest in a deal that shares power across the aisle.

“There is no path for a GOP-only empowerment of a Speaker Pro-Tem so it will necessarily require Democrat votes,” Roy tweeted. “It is, in any event, a fool’s errand - breaking with tradition & setting constitutionally questionable precedent.”

The tensions have come to a head at a brutal GOP conference meeting this afternoon, where McCarthy reportedly screamed at Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the effort to oust him. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., told reporters outside the meeting that “temperatures are really high in there” and that he was “going up to the chapel to pray the rosary.”

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