After Meeting Ahead of Speaker Vote, No Idea 'How You Get to 218'

2 candidates spoke at closed-door conference meeting, but consensus seems hard to reach
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2023 7:11 PM CDT
Updated Oct 11, 2023 12:00 AM CDT
Republicans Prepare to Elect New Speaker
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy , talks to reporters as House Republicans hold a closed-door forum to hear from the candidates for speaker of the House, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UPDATE Oct 11, 2023 12:00 AM CDT

By the end of Tuesday night's closed-door meeting, the AP was reporting that the Republican House majority appeared "stuck ... in a stalemate that threatens to keep Congress partly shuttered indefinitely." The two House speaker candidates who spoke at the meeting, Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise, appeared to be splitting the vote. "I don't know how the hell you get to 218," Rep. Troy Nehls said afterward, referring to the majority vote typically needed to elect a speaker. "It could be a long week." The interim speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry, told reporters it's "my goal" to stick to the schedule to hold an election Wednesday.

Oct 10, 2023 7:11 PM CDT

House Republicans gathered Tuesday evening for a closed-door meeting to hear from candidates for House speaker—but despite pressure to select a successor to Rep. Kevin McCarthy quickly, no front-runner has emerged yet, the Hill reports. The meeting heard from the two declared candidates, Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise. In an interview Monday, McCarthy didn't rule out returning to the role, but he told reporters after leaving the meeting Tuesday that there are two candidates for speaker and he's not one of them. The remarks from McCarthy, who said he hadn't endorsed anybody, indicate that there were no last-minute entries in the race, NBC News reports.

The party has said its goal is to hold a conference vote to unify around a candidate Wednesday, with a vote on the House floor to select a new speaker shortly afterward, but there are several questions still to be resolved and it's not clear whether either man can get the necessary 217 votes, the Wall Street Journal reports. Jordan's supporters say he is the candidate most likely to get the eight rebel hardliners who pushed out McCarthy on board, while Scalise's supporters argue that the connections he has built with many lawmakers make him the best candidate to unite the conference.

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Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Hamas attack made it urgent to select a new speaker to enable the House to support Israel, the New York Times reports. "We need to get a speaker by Wednesday," he said. "The world is watching. They're seeing a dysfunctional democracy." The conference vote is scheduled for 10am Eastern Wednesday, though Rep. Thomas Massie put the chances of his fellow House Republicans agreeing on a candidate at just 2%. Sources tell NBC that in a separate meeting Tuesday, House Democrats unanimously agreed to renominate House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries for speaker. (More speaker of the House stories.)

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