Republican Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana on Thursday withdrew from consideration for the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Scalise was nominated on Wednesday in a closed-door ballot among House Republicans, but many GOP House members supported his challenger, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio. Also favoring Jordan was former President Donald Trump. In a Truth Social message posted before Scalise was nominated, Trump said the Ohio congressman “will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”
The previous House speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, was voted out of the position on October 3 after Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida spearheaded an effort to remove him.
Scalise has represented Louisiana in the House since 2008. This summer, he was diagnosed with blood cancer. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, on Wednesday said she was supporting Jordan over Scalise because she preferred the latter focus his energy on fighting his cancer diagnosis.
“Steve is a man that is in serious trouble, from the standpoint of his cancer,” Trump said. “I just don’t know how you can do the job when you have such a serious problem.”
While speaking with reporters about his decision to end his speaker bid, Scalise made reference to the fractured state of the Republican Party in the House.
“There are still some people that have their own agendas,” he said.
“This House of Representatives needs a speaker, and we need to open up the House again,” Scalise added. “But clearly, not everybody is there and they’re still schisms that have to get resolved.”
Scalise declined to say on Thursday if he would back Jordan, instead saying he was going to work hard to have the speaker position filled quickly.
Newsweek reached out to Scalise via email for further comment Thursday night.
During Wednesday’s closed-door meeting of House Republicans, Scalise received 113 votes to become the next speaker, while Jordan received 99. To secure the speaker position, a candidate is required to receive at least 217 votes among the House in its entirety.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, spoke with PBS NewsHour on Thursday, saying it’s “urgently necessary that the Republicans get their act together and elect the speaker from within their own ranks.”
Jeffries also indicated Democrats might partner with Republicans who “break with the extremists.”
“We are ready, willing and able to do so,” he said. “I know there are traditional Republicans who are good women and men who want to see government function, but they are unable to do it within the ranks of their own conference, which is dominated by the extremist wing. And that’s why we continue to extend the hand of bipartisanship to them.”
Update 10/12/23, 9:12 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include more background information.