House Republicans selected Scalise, the current House majority leader, as their nominee for speaker in a 113-99 vote on Wednesday, just more than one week after McCarthy was ousted from the role following an unprecedented successful motion to vacate the speakership.
A number of MAGA Republicans, however, have rejected Scalise, responding to the defeat of Trump-backed Representative Jim Jordan with outrage. Regardless, Jordan ended his bid for speaker following the vote and has since endorsed Scalise.
During an episode of his War Room podcast on Thursday, Bannon predicted that Scalise would not be able to muster the required 217 votes to become the next speaker, referring to the Louisiana Republican as a member of the supposed “D.C. cartel” who is “owned by lobbyists.”
“Steve Scalise is just a watered-down version, a not quite as slick version of Kevin McCarthy,” Bannon said. “Completely owned by the lobbyists. It’s just D.C. cartel with a less slick front porch. It cannot happen. It would be a disastrous speakership.”
Bannon went on to assert that the race for speaker remains “completely open” because “Scalise is not going to get there,” pointing out that a significant number of Republicans have already declared that they will not vote for him.
“We cannot have anybody that represents the D.C. insider cartel, and that’s Steve Scalise,” Bannon said. “He just keeps a lower profile.”
Newsweek reached out for comment to Scalise’s office via email on Thursday.
The GOP’s slim House majority means that only five Republican members would need to break ranks for any speaker candidate to fail, assuming that all Democratic members vote against the nominee.
At least 10 House Republicans had already vowed to not support Scalise’s speakership as of Thursday afternoon, including MAGA loyalists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Chip Roy. Congressman Matt Gaetz, who filed the motion to remove McCarthy, has said he will back Scalise.
McCarthy became speaker in January following a prolonged and contentious series of hearings that included a record 15 votes. Given the current divide among Republicans, the attempt to confirm Scalise as speaker could be similarly chaotic.
Scalise was nominated in a secret ballot. GOP consultant John Feehery told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Jordan’s failure to secure the nomination for speaker may indicate that Trump’s sway among Republicans is less powerful than some believe.
“Having outsiders meddle in insider elections never goes well,” Feehery said. “And Trump is the ultimate outsider, and, frankly, most members don’t like him very much.”