Majority leader Steve Scalise withdrew his candidacy after failing to win the support of enough fellow Republicans
Representative Steve Scalise has announced he will not be seeking the position of US House speaker after apparently failing to secure the support of enough fellow Republicans to win a vote of the full chamber. His decision has left the lower chamber of Congress in limbo, with previous Speaker Kevin McCarthy voted out last week.
Speaking to the press on Thursday following a closed-door meeting with fellow GOP lawmakers, Scalise said, “I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for the Speaker-designee.” He added that there are still people prioritizing “their own agendas,” and urged his colleagues to “come together for the country” as soon as possible.
Having narrowly beaten Trump-endorsed conservative Jim Jordan by 113 votes to 99 in a closed-door meeting of GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the majority leader was busy trying to win over some of the hardline supporters of his rival.
Scalise would have needed 217 votes to assume the speakership, and with the Republican Party holding 221 seats in the House, the Louisiana lawmaker could have only afforded four defections. However, he apparently failed to convince enough fellow Republicans, with some suggesting Scalise should focus on his health instead, after being diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma.
Following the majority leader’s announcement, some, like Representative Jim Banks, called on their colleagues to get behind Jordan, while others suggested giving Patrick McHenry, who was appointed interim speaker pro tempore, greater authority to lead the House for some time.
Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said the “House Republicans need to end the GOP Civil War, now.” He also expressed his willingness to “find a bipartisan path forward,” provided that “traditional Republicans… break from the extremists and partner with us.”
The House has been without a speaker since last Tuesday, when Florida Representative Matt Gaetz – a close ally of Jordan – called a vote to sack California Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the position. Gaetz accused McCarthy of kowtowing to the Democratic Party by attempting to pass an expansive spending bill and cutting a “secret side-deal” with Biden to keep funding the Ukrainian military.
Without a speaker, legislation cannot be passed, meaning that no more funding for Ukraine or Israel can be authorized.
October 13, 2023 at 01:41PM