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 October 11, 2023

House Republicans designate Steve Scalise as nominee for next speaker

On Wednesday, Republican legislators chose Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) as their nominee for speaker of the House, setting up an election to fill the post left vacant by the historic removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last week.

According to reports, Scalise won the gavel by a vote of 113 to 99 over conservative firebrand and current Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), as CBS News reported.

The Republican nominee for Speaker of the House was selected in a closed-door meeting.

Republicans who voted for Jordan to become the nominee have no obligation to vote for Scalise, and he still needs 217 votes from the whole House to become speaker.

Some Republicans suggested that the whole House could have voted as soon as Wednesday, which was not the schedule that was kept.

Others have voiced opposition to holding a vote so soon after the private session. At three o'clock, the House of Representatives returned from its recess. Last week's historic vote to fire McCarthy set up the showdown between Scalise and Jordan for the gavel.

Although the attacks in Israel have increased the urgency of filling the speaker post, the House has been at a standstill since the unusual vote that left the job empty.

"We have a lot of work to do, not just in the House for the people of this country, but we see how dangerous of a world it is and how things can change so quickly," Scalise told reporters after the closed-door election.

Given the ongoing conflict in Israel, he said the House of Representatives must act promptly to formally elect a speaker, adding "We need to make sure we're sending a message to people all throughout the world that the House is open and doing the people's business."

If elected speaker, Scalise has promised to prioritize a resolution affirming American support for Israel. After Congress enacted legislation late last month to keep agencies working through November 17, the next speaker will similarly be faced with a rapidly approaching deadline to fund the government.

Instead of voting publicly for McCarthy's replacement, Republicans selected Scalise as their nominee via secret ballot.

The Louisiana Republican's nomination culminates his rise through the ranks of the Republican Party's leadership, which included stints as majority and minority whip and majority leader, positions to which he was elected in November 2022, when Republicans gained control of the House.

Earlier on Wednesday, lawmakers who emerged from a morning meeting of the Republican conference stated that they had deferred an amendment to conference rules that would have raised the bar for nominating a speaker.

The amendment, proposed by Representatives Chip Roy and Brian Fitzpatrick, would have required any candidate to receive 217 ballots, the current majority since there are two open seats, prior to a vote by the entire House. Scalise required only half of the conference's support.

The rule change aimed to avoid the spectacle of McCarthy's January candidacy for speaker, which consisted of four days and fifteen ballots. Scalise's narrow victory for his party's nomination sets the stage for what could be another protracted floor fight.

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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