December 10, 2023

By Jeremy Herb, Melanie Zanona, Manu Raju and Haley Talbot | CNN

Majority Chief Steve Scalise is scrambling to salvage his Home speaker bid within the face of an entrenched opposition inside his social gathering that’s left the chamber paralyzed and with no path ahead to electing a speaker.

Home Republicans met behind closed-doors for greater than two hours Thursday, the place Scalise urged his detractors to clarify their opposition to him in entrance of the convention. After the assembly ended, Scalise deliberate to huddle with these against him in his workplace, together with the leaders of the varied Republican conferences.

However the opposition to Scalise as the following speaker solely grew Thursday, with roughly 20 Republicans publicly opposing him. Scalise wants a majority of the Home to be elected speaker, which means he can solely afford to lose 4 votes.

The impasse is resulting in intensifying frustration because the Home GOP seems to be no nearer to coalescing round a speaker candidate. A number of Republicans described Thursday’s assembly as a venting session that wasn’t terribly productive. Many stated it didn’t really feel like anybody might really get to the 217 votes wanted.

“That is petty, and I’m getting freaking uninterested in it,” stated Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a New York Republican. “We’re all in there sharing our emotions, however the actuality is we nonetheless have to get to 217.”

Scalise’s math drawback turned obvious shortly after he gained the GOP convention vote to be speaker over Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, 113-99. A number of of the Jordan supporters stated instantly they might not vote for Scalise on the ground, and the quantity has solely ballooned within the day since.

“I’m not on the whip staff, however I can depend votes and there’s a fairly large hole proper now,” stated Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee, one of many Republicans who stated he would vote for Jordan.

Leaving Thursday’s convention assembly, Scalise stated he could be assembly with smaller teams within the convention to attempt to resolve the holdouts earlier than going to the ground for a vote.

“I’m not chopping any offers. I need to meet in entrance of all our members, reply each query, and simply proceed to work via to unite and produce our convention collectively and tackle points as they arrive up,” Scalise stated. “I took each query that everyone introduced, and we’re going to proceed to undergo this course of. As we develop our assist, work in the direction of getting this resolved and getting the Home again up and working.”

Republican lawmakers had been informed to anticipate one other convention assembly within the night, and plenty of stated it was unlikely {that a} ground vote for speaker could be held Thursday.

Scalise’s math drawback

Republicans are anxious that Scalise is dealing with grim prospects of turning into speaker, an deadlock that threatens to extend the GOP’s management disaster that has left the Home paralyzed and unable to maneuver on any laws.

Late Wednesday, members of the convention had been starting to weigh how they might deal with the potential collapse of his bid, with a number of GOP sources saying they imagine they’d have to think about a brand new candidate who has but to run for the speakership.

Scalise or another Republican candidate wants 217 votes to win the speaker’s gavel, a majority of your complete Home, which presently has two vacancies. Which means Scalise might solely afford to lose 4 Republicans if each member is voting. Democrats are anticipated to uniformly again Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who is predicted to again Scalise, sharply criticized members saying that they gained’t vote for Scalise.

“I believe they need to all resign their congressional seat until they get 100% of their district to vote for them,” he informed CNN.

Jordan stated Thursday he needs Republicans to unite round Scalise. “I do and I’ve been clear about that since yesterday,” Jordan stated.

However pressed on if he would rule out taking the job if Scalise can’t get there, Jordan didn’t give a transparent reply. “I’ll nominate Steve on the ground and I hope we will unite round a speaker,” the Ohio Republican stated.

Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Jordan, was bitter on Scalise’s speakership candidacy in a Fox Information Radio interview, pointing to the Home majority chief’s current most cancers analysis.

“I simply don’t understand how you are able to do the job when you could have such a significant issue,” Trump stated.

The opposition to Scalise inside his social gathering has thrown into doubt how Republicans will get out of their speaker conundrum that’s left them merely unable to manipulate.

A leaderless Home amid world turmoil

Whereas there was some perception on Capitol Hill that the brutal assault on Israel over the weekend would possibly immediate Republicans to shortly choose a frontrunner – Home lawmakers got a categorized briefing on Israel on Wednesday earlier than the convention vote for speaker – the deep divisions within the convention that led to Kevin McCarthy’s elimination final week have now left the search for a brand new speaker at a standstill.

Because the variety of holdouts has trended within the flawed route, some Home Republicans are weighing whether or not it’s time to transfer onto different choices because the strain mounts to handle urgent wants just like the warfare in Israel and authorities funding.

Some lawmakers are suggesting they might want to put up a brand new candidate if Scalise can’t get there quickly.

GOP Rep. Mark Inexperienced stated that if Scalise can’t get the votes, then “someone else must step up.”

One other concept that got here up through the closed door convention assembly was whether or not Republicans ought to attempt to increase the powers of interim Speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, so the Home can move laws, like a decision for Israel, a number of lawmakers informed CNN.

However members burdened it was not a severe dialog at this level, however somewhat simply one thing that’s being floated.

“That’s an possibility that we might pursue” GOP Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas informed reporters.

Individually, some Home Democrats have began having preliminary conversations with some Republicans about who could be enthusiastic about working with them if Scalise drops out, one supply aware of the conversations informed CNN.

One of many Republicans Democrats could be enthusiastic about is Home Guidelines Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the supply added. However no cope with Republicans would come without spending a dime, and Democrats have stated they would wish main concessions for any talks to grow to be actual.

No clear various if Scalise can’t be elected

Even the assist Scalise has gained over has confirmed fickle. On Wednesday, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna stated after assembly with Scalise that she felt “snug” sufficient to assist his speaker nomination, after he spoke to her in regards to the Oversight Committee’s impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden.