GOP’s Steve Scalise has ended his bid to become House Speaker after failing to secure the votes to win gavel

steve scalise
Another messy showdown looms.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise has ended his bid to become House speaker after failing to secure the votes to win the gavel.

Scalise told GOP colleagues at a closed-door meeting late Thursday of his decision.

Next steps are uncertain as the House is essentially closed while Republicans try to elect a speaker after ousting Kevin McCarthy from the job.

Scalise, R-La., said the Republican majority “still has to come together and is not there.”

He had been working furiously secure the votes after being nominated by a majority of his colleagues, but after hours of private meetings over two days and late into the evening at the Capitol it was clear lawmakers were not budging from their refusal to support him.

“There are still some people that have their own agendas,” Scalise said. “And I was very clear, we have to have everybody put their agendas on the side and focus on what this country needs.”

Frustrations mounted as the crisis deepened and Republicans lost another day without a House speaker. Scalise was trying to peel off more than 100 votes, mostly from those who backed his chief rival, Rep. Jim Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chairman favored by hard-liners, who announced he was no longer in the running and tossed his vote to Scalise.

“We’re going to get this done,” Scalise had said after an earlier closed-door meeting at the Capitol.

Scalise said he took every question thrown his way and pledged during the two-hour session to work through the issues raised. But there is no easy endgame in sight.

“Time is of the essence,” McCarthy said when he arrived at the Capitol Thursday.

Asked if it was still possible for Scalise to find enough support, McCarthy said, “It’s possible — it’s a big hill, though.”

Action is needed to fund the government or face the threat of a federal shutdown in a month. Lawmakers also want Congress to deliver a strong statement of support for Israel in the war with Hamas, but a bipartisan resolution has been sidelined by the stalemate in the House. The White House is expected to soon ask for money for Israel, Ukraine and the backfill of the U.S. weapons stockpile.

The situation is not fully different from the start of the year, when McCarthy faced a similar backlash from a different group of far-right holdouts who ultimately gave their votes to elect him speaker, then engineered his historic downfall.

But the math this time is even more daunting. Scalise, who is seen by some colleagues as hero for having survived a 2017 shooting on lawmakers at a congressional baseball game practice, won the closed-door Republican vote 113-99. But McCarthy, R-Calif., noted that Scalise, a longtime rival, had indicated he would have 150 votes behind closed doors, but missed that mark.

Scalise would have needed 217 votes to reach a majority that likely would be needed in a floor battle with Democrats. The chamber is narrowly split 221-212, with two vacancies, meaning Scalise could lose just a few Republicans in the face of opposition from Democrats who will most certainly back their own leader, New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Absences heading into the weekend could lower the majority threshold needed.

Exasperated Democrats, who have been watching and waiting for the Republican majority to recover from McCarthy’s ouster, urged them to figure it out, warning the world is watching.

“The House Republicans need to end the GOP Civil War, now,” Jeffries said.

“The House Democrats have continued to make clear that we are ready, willing and able to find a bipartisan path forward,” he said, urging that the House reopen and change GOP-led rules that allowed a single lawmaker to put in motion the process to remove the speaker.

As Congress sat idle, the Republicans spent a second day behind closed doors, arguing and airing grievances but failing to follow their own party rules and unite behind the nominee.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, said the meetings had been marked by “emotional” objections to voting for Scalise.

“It’s not for your personal grievances, but that’s unfortunately what I keep seeing,” he said.

Some Republicans simply took their Chick-fil-A lunches to go.

Jordan, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus who was backed by Trump in the speaker’s race, announced he did not plan to continue running for the leadership position.

“We need to come together and support Steve,” Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters before the closed session.

It was the most vocal endorsement yet from Jordan, who had earlier offered to give his rival a nominating speech on the floor, and privately was telling lawmakers he would vote for Scalise and was encouraging his colleagues to do the same.

But it was not enough to sway the holdouts.

Handfuls of hard-liners announced they were sticking with Jordan, McCarthy or someone other than Scalise.

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, reaffirmed his support for Trump as speaker; the position does not need to go to a member of Congress.

Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, repeatedly discussed Scalise’s health during a radio interview that aired Thursday.

“Well, I like Steve. I like both of them very much. But the problem, you know, Steve is a man that is in serious trouble, from the standpoint of his cancer,” Trump said on Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show.

Scalise has been diagnosed with a form of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma and is being treated.

“I think it’s going to be very hard, maybe in either case, for somebody to get,” Trump said. “And then you end up in one of these crazy stalemates. It’s a very interesting situation.”

Otherwise, Trump was expected to take a hands-off approach to the internal GOP fight once Scalise, rather than his choice of Jordan, became the nominee, according to one person familiar with Trump’s thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many Republicans want to prevent the spectacle of a messy House floor fight like the grueling January brawl when McCarthy became speaker.

But others said it was time for Republicans to get out from behind closed doors and vote.

“Stop dragging it out,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., on social media. “If Kevin McCarthy had to go 15 rounds then the next Speaker should be able to do the same or more if they have to.”


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • My Take

    October 12, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    Republicans today are not fit to govern.
    In no small part because they really just want to rule.

  • Earl Pitts "The Earl Of International Security" American

    October 12, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    Attention House Patriots,
    Steve sadly has questionable health and we need as few issues with our new Speaket as possable.
    Jimmy Jordan ASAP, quite dicking around, and start kicking some Democrat @55.
    The Earl has spoken.

  • My Take

    October 12, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    Trumpy! Select Trumpy!
    What do the GOPers have to lose?
    They can’t look any dumber.

    • Impeach Biden

      October 13, 2023 at 9:48 am

      Look no further than the morons in this current administration. You gonna hang your hat on Biden, Harris, Mayorkas, that idiot energy Secretary, Austin, Blinken. Really? Everyone of them is incompetent.

  • My Take

    October 12, 2023 at 10:31 pm

    The GOPer House-Speaker chaos, Trump’s Israeĺ ravings, and the GOPer pols’ hysterical reaction to the latter are great fun to watch.
    They would be more fun if the nation and world weren’t at risk.

  • PeterH

    October 13, 2023 at 12:00 am

    He would have been tremendous embarrassment for America. He should actually resign and spend more time healing from his cancer and association with David Duke!

  • They’re actually at each other’s throats

    October 13, 2023 at 1:23 am

    Of course the truth as reported reliably in Politico was that Gym evidently told Scalise he would nominate him on the first ballot and when Scalise lost then expected him to nominate Gym in return because “America” wanted him to be Speaker🙄

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 13, 2023 at 2:38 am

    Enough MAGA ! Elect Kevin McCarthy speaker of the US House! MAGA filth like Gaetz and Green shall be ignored! Republicans we in America need a strong two party system! If Israel folks can put aside their differences for the common good so can the MAGA creeps !

  • Michael K

    October 13, 2023 at 2:48 am

    The Republican Party is dead. It stands for nothing more than shoveling tax cuts and tax dollars to their billionaire donors, destroying trust in public institutions, controlling women’s bodies, and inflicting greater pain and cruelty on the poor.

    Radical right wing Republican extremists have shut down a branch of government. These people have no interest in governing or compromise – only feeding their oversized egos and making tge the US weaker.

    Remember this in November 2024.

    • Impeach Biden

      October 13, 2023 at 9:49 am

      Ask yourself where did Obama, Biden, Clinton get their money?

Comments are closed.


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