(The Center Square) — U.S. House Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana reportedly received the backing of a majority of his fellow House Republicans for the speaker of the House nomination during a closed conference meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Now, Scalise faces a vote of the full House for the vacant position as early as Wednesday afternoon, and his battle is far from over. Scalise needs the support of nearly all his Republican colleagues since Democrats will likely vote against his nomination.
Scalise was by no means a landslide winner of the vote, which was conducted by secret ballot, winning 113-99, according to multiple media reports. In particular, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, put his name in the hat for speaker and received some support, including the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is no stranger to wrangling Republicans in this setting. He narrowly secured the speakership for this Congress after more than a dozen public votes, but was ousted after he reached a deal with Democrats to keep the federal government open temporarily late last month.
If Scalise fails to get the necessary votes, McCarthy could resurface as a contender. McCarthy said he will not run again after being ousted but later softened his tone, saying he would “let the conference decide.”
Another issue at hand is whether one lawmaker will be able to file a motion to vacate the speaker, an unusual allowance given by McCarthy to secure the needed Republican votes after the marathon series of speakership votes earlier this year. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., filed that motion, which led to the ousting of McCarthy and frustration from many of his Republican colleagues.
With a partial government shutdown looming in mid-November as well as pressure to supply funds and munitions to both Ukraine and Israel given the conflicts there, House Republicans are facing increased pressure to figure things out quickly.
Scalise is the current majority leader, so if he is able to win the speakership, a significant leadership role in the party will immediately open up. Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer plans to seek the majority leader role.
Scalise announced earlier this year that he was diagnosed with blood cancer, but he has insisted he is up to the leadership role.
Until the House chooses a speaker, no legislation can proceed. The current speaker pro tempore is Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who will determine the times of any speaker votes until a speaker secures the spot.