Republican opposition to hardline conservative Republican Jim Jorda’s bid to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was growing in a third vote on this candidacy, as lawmakers struggle to fill the vacant speaker’s chair.
With voting under way, Jordan was faring worse than he had in two previous rounds of balloting earlier in the week. At least 25 of his fellow Republicans cast ballots for other candidates, more than the 22 who had voted against him on Wednesday.
That would likely leave Jordan short of the 214 votes he would need to win the speaker’s job, as all Democrats are expected to vote against him.
Republicans control the chamber by a narrow 221-212 majority.
Republicans appear no closer to resolving a leadership battle that has paralyzed the House for more than two weeks. Their infighting has left Congress unable to act on President Joe Biden’s request for aid to Ukraine and Israel.
At a news conference ahead of the vote, Jordan said the House needed to install a speaker so it could take up aid for Israel and other matters, but he did not predict victory.
“Our plan this weekend is to get a speaker elected to the House of Representatives as soon as possible,” he said.
A close ally of Donald Trump, Jordan was a “significant player” in the former president’s attempts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win, according to a congressional investigation.
“I think there were all kinds of problems with the 2020 election, and I’ve been clear about that,” he said.
The narrow and fractious Republican majority has failed to unite behind Jordan or any other candidate to replace Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted by a handful of party members on Oct. 3. They also have been unable to agree on a fallback plan that would let the chamber take up legislation.
McCarthy said Jordan would be an effective leader.
“He is straightforward, honest and reliable. That is who Jim Jordan is. That’s what being a speaker is all about,” he said as he nominated Jordan on the House floor.
Jordan has failed to win the votes needed to claim the speaker’s gavel in votes on Tuesday and Wednesday. He has made little headway with the 22 Republicans who voted against him, some of whom say they have received death threats.
Jordan’s allies say that should not matter. “All of us in Congress receive death threats. I don’t know if that’s a newsflash for anybody here,” Republican Representative Scott Perry said.
Democrats describe Jordan as a dangerous extremist and have unanimously voted against him.
“Their nominee’s vision is a direct attack on the freedom and the rights of the American people, and he’s got the record to prove it,” Democratic Representative Katherine Clark said on the House floor.
Jordan has not gotten more than 200 votes so far.
A third failed vote might prompt Jordan to drop out, which would clear the way for other candidates. But it is unclear whether Republicans will be able to unite behind any of them.
Republican Representative Jodey Arrington, who has been floated as an alternative, said he was backing Jordan for now. “As long as he’s in the race, we’re going to get him there,” he told reporters.
Republicans also are divided on a backup option that could allow the chamber to address pressing matters, like spending legislation that would allow the U.S. government to keep functioning beyond a Nov. 17 deadline, and a foreign aid package that could amount to $100 billion.
That plan would give more authority to Republican Representative Patrick McHenry, who is filling the speaker’s chair on a temporary basis. House Democrats and the White House have said they are open to the idea, but Republicans rejected that approach in a closed-door meeting on Thursday.
Biden urged Republicans to resolve their differences in a televised speech on Thursday. “You can’t let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation,” he said.
Jordan said the House needed to elect him speaker so it could approve aid to Israel. “The sooner we can get this accomplished, the better for the American people, who expect us to work for them, and for our friends and allies like the great state of Israel,” he said.
Investors say the turmoil on Capitol Hill is also contributing to market volatility.
Jordan has built his reputation as a leader of that uncompromising right flank. His backers say that would make him an effective fighter for conservative policies in a town where Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
He helped to engineer government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018 and helped to push Republican Speaker John Boehner into retirement in 2015.