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“He doesn’t lose”: House still without speaker as MAGA pushes for Jordan

Despite already losing two votes by increasing margins and facing bipartisan calls to step aside and allow a temporary leader to control the House, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio refused to terminate his bid for speaker on Thursday and said he wants the House to vote on his speakership for a third time.

“If you look at his wrestling record, he doesn’t lose,” Republican Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who voted against Jordan, told Newsweek. “For him, I think it’s hard in your life to say, ‘you know, I am not used to this, and I’m not giving up.'”

On Wednesday, Kelly and 21 other Republicans declined to vote for Jordan as speaker, leaving him with 199 votes, well below the 217 he needs to earn the gavel. Kelly’s comments came following a closed-door Thursday meeting between Jordan and GOP holdouts.

Jordan, who chairs the Judiciary Committee and served as founding chairman of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, ranks among his party’s most conservative members. He is popular among the MAGA movement for his fiery advocacy of conservative priorities and sharp defense of former President Donald Trump.

Representative Jim Jordan on Thursday speaks to the press at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Republicans appeared poised to move on from the hardline conservative in their search for a new House speaker, as lawmakers mulled appointing a temporary leader to steer them out of a civil war engulfing the party but the measure later failed.
Photo by SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame writes that Jordan also “might be the best wrestler ever to occupy an elected position.” A four-time Ohio state high school champion, Jordan boasts a career record of 150-1. As a leading member of the Freedom Caucus, he holds immense influence among the Republican Party’s most conservative members.

Kelly told reporters after meeting with Jordan that the Ohio Republican “can see the writing on the wall” and knows that he cannot win the speakership. The meeting did not revolve around cutting a deal to earn their support, he said, with Jordan instead focusing on listening to the grievances of his peers. Nonetheless, Kelly said “this guy refuses to lose.”

However, it’s not just Jordan who doesn’t like the idea of losing. His fellow Freedom Caucus members and hard-right allies also appear unwilling to let their leader throw in the towel.

“Republican voters worked too hard to give us the majority for us to enter some sort of temporary speakership,” Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told reporters on Thursday. “We voted for [Jordan] to be our speaker nominee. We only had two votes. I wanted to see it keep going today.”

Jordan started the day poised to remain speaker designee and concede another round of votes for the time-being. The House could then vote to provide Patrick McHenry, speaker pro tempore, whose role is ceremonial, with governing powers. This would allow the House to get to work passing legislation to aid its embattled allies Israel and Ukraine while also moving forward on spending bills to avert a November 17 government shutdown.

Patrick MchHenry Faces Calls for Power
Speaker pro tempore Patrick McHenry, right, on Thursday talks with Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania as they leave a meeting in Washington, D.C. House leadership and those who voted against Congressman Jim Jordan held meetings to come up with a plan to move forward with the nomination of a new House speaker.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

However, following an 11 a.m. conference that lasted four hours, conservatives made it clear they would not support a resolution to empower McHenry. Jordan later emerged from the meeting and announced his desire to run for a round three despite his candidacy’s grim fate. His office said it plans to hold the vote Friday morning.

Jordan, regardless of his appeal among the right, does not share the same commitment to legislating as his party’s centrist members. Though he entered Congress in 2007, the Ohio Republican has never passed a single bill. Electing him to speaker could prove politically disastrous for moderates who won districts carried by President Joe Biden. Furthermore, Jordan is not someone who will ever likely receive bipartisan support from Democrats.

“There are a whole host of other Republicans who are respected on our side of the aisle. Jim Jordan is not one of them,” House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said on Tuesday. “I have respect for Patrick McHenry. I think he is respected on our side of the aisle.”

Without an empowered speaker, America cannot pass any legislation, including measures needed to support its allies at war and keep the government open.

Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, who served in the House during a similarly tumultuous time when Republicans needed to come together to replace then-Speaker John Boehner, offered some words of advice.

Lummus Offers Advice to House Republicans
Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming is pictured on February 3, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. A former House member, she has seen the hurdles that can complicate the election of a House speaker.
Photo by Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

Lummis, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, said she’s surprised that it has been “this difficult” for House Republicans to unite. When Boehner gave up the gavel, she said significant work went on behind the scenes to find someone acceptable to both wings of the party.

The list of names who decided to oppose Jordan didn’t surprise Lummis. She said most of them are defense hawks that favor military spending, a stance that can come in conflict with conservatives reticent to support increased government spending.

“Looking at it from the outside, I think that the defense hawks and the fiscal hawks, the real tightwads like I am, need to get together and find someone that they can both agree on and then really work to get that person over the finish line,” Lummis told Newsweek.

If that requires empowering a temporary speaker to keep the House in order while those conversations take place, she encourages lawmakers to move ahead.

“If that’s what they have to do, I’m to the point now where any port in the storm, anyway that they can find their way through this, I’m all for,” Lummis said. “I’m just sad that this thing has festered.”

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