Republicans nominated Steve Scalise for the House’s next speaker on Wednesday, but the Louisiana representative already has several defectors who could thwart his chances of getting the post.
Scalise eked out a victory in a closed-door vote among House GOP Conference members, winning 113-99 as their choice to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Last month, McCarthy enraged House conservatives by brokering a deal with Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown. Representative Matt Gaetz then filed a motion to vacate McCarthy’s office, with eight Republicans voting with the Democrats to remove him as speaker.
In Wednesday’s vote, Scalise defeated Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a favorite of MAGA Republicans. Now, he is tasked with uniting the fractured Republican Conference to gain enough support to win the speaker election in the full House, which is expected in the coming days.
However, some Republicans are already signaling they will not vote for Scalise, who can afford to have only a handful of defectors because of the GOP’s slim margin in the House.
Republicans hold 221 seats, while Democrats have 212. Two seats remain vacant. This means Scalise can lose only four GOP votes on the House floor and still win.
“I will be voting for Jim Jordan to be Speaker of the House on the floor when the vote is called,” she wrote. “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. The American people deserve a real change in leadership, not a continuation of the status quo.”
Other MAGA conservatives have indicated they will not vote for Scalise. Representative Max Miller of Ohio said he plans to back Jordan, Axios’ Andrew Solender reported.
“‘I’m voting for Jordan,’ Rep. Max Miller says emerging from the meeting. ‘I’m voting for Jim Jordan on the floor,’ says Boebert,” Solender wrote in a post to X.
Newsweek reached out to Scalise’s office for comment via email.
Representative Bob Good of Virginia said he is skeptical of Scalise. “It’s hard to envision that he will be a change agent. I think the country recognizes the Congress needs to be changed,” he told NBC News.
Meanwhile, House Freedom Caucus member Anna Paulina Luna of Florida said she was unsure whether she’d vote for Scalise, Punchbowl News reported. And Representative Carlos Gimenez, a centrist Republican from Florida, plans to vote for McCarthy on the floor, according to the news outlet.
Representative Ken Buck of Colorado has indicated he would not back either Scalise or Jordan during the speaker election because they refused to answer his question about whether President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
“If we don’t have the moral clarity to decide whether President Biden won or not, we don’t have the moral clarity to rule in this country, period,” Buck told The Huffington Post.
Other MAGA Republicans have said they plan to back Scalise. Gaetz, who led the efforts to oust McCarthy, said he was “excited for” Scalise.
“Long live Speaker Scalise,” he said.