Steve Scalise: 2023 House Speaker Election Turmoil as Prominent Republicans Vow to Stall
In a high-stakes showdown for the next House Speaker, U.S. Reps. Chip Roy, R-Austin, and Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, along with several other hard-right Republicans, have publicly committed to vote against House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, throwing the House Speaker Election into uncertainty.
These bold declarations from Roy and Cloud are reminiscent of their resistance to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership bid in January, a move aimed at amplifying their influence within the party. U.S. Rep. Keith Self, R-McKinney, the third Texan who resisted McCarthy’s bid, revealed his vote against Scalise during a closed-door Republican conference meeting. He, however, remained uncertain about his stance during the floor vote.
As the House recessed without voting on a new speaker, the Republican Party refrained from setting a date for the next vote. The battle for the Speaker’s position now pits Scalise against House Judiciary Chair and Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan of Ohio, who seeks to replace McCarthy. McCarthy’s removal resulted from a rebellion by eight far-right members, none of them Texans, each with their unique grievances. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a prominent figure in the rebellion, has now expressed his support for Scalise.
In the most recent development, the House Republican Conference voted in favor of Scalise as their nominee for the House-wide speaker election, with 113 votes, while Jordan received 99. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is to secure 217 votes in the full House to clinch the gavel.
Roy, known for his strategic acumen, proposed a rule during the meeting, which aimed to mandate a speaker candidate to secure at least 217 votes within the Republican conference before scheduling a House-wide vote. This rule aimed to prevent a repeat of the chaotic January speaker race that exposed divisions within the party.
Despite widespread support for Roy’s rule, the conference chose to table the rule change, sparking Roy’s ire. He refused to comment further on the election but later took to social media, expressing his displeasure at the timing of the vote and reiterating his resolve to vote against Scalise..
After a meeting with Scalise, Roy emphasized his concerns about the rule change’s rejection and the need for the party to appear more united. He refrained from revealing any private discussions and stressed that the conference is still working to resolve their differences before the House-wide vote.
Cloud also expressed reservations about proceeding to a full-House vote with insufficient support for their leading candidate, considering the impending need for Congress to pass government funding legislation to avert a federal shutdown. While acknowledging his respect for Scalise, Cloud criticized the rush to the floor vote without full conference buy-in.
Leading up to the meeting, the Texas delegation remained divided in their support, with the House Freedom Caucus leaning toward Jordan, who also had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Scalise, on the other hand, enjoyed the backing of key McCarthy allies and a solid reputation within the House Republican Conference.
While some members kept their votes confidential until the election day, others insisted that either candidate would suffice, emphasizing the importance of electing someone capable of securing the necessary votes to become Speaker. The appetite for a prolonged speaker fight, similar to January’s debacle, appears to be low throughout the party spectrum, with several Texas Republicans acknowledging minimal policy differences between the two candidates.
As U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, expressed confidence in Scalise’s eventual success, the broader goal remains uniting the party and avoiding a repetition of the January turmoil.
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