Sarah May
October 13, 2023
11:15 pm

Scalise cancer diagnosis cited by some in GOP as reason to oppose his bid for speaker's gavel

As the battle for the House speaker's gavel continues to drag on, some Republicans are now suggesting that the recent cancer diagnosis announced by Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) is the reason they cannot support his bid for the role, as the Washington Examiner reports.

In a series of seemingly endless twists and turns in the party's efforts to replace recently ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Scalise secured the GOP nomination for the top job during a closed-door vote earlier this week.

However, just one day later, when it became clear that he would have difficulty marshaling sufficient votes once his nomination went to the House floor, the Louisiana lawmaker withdrew his candidacy for the speaker's chair, as The Hill explained.

On his way out of a Republican conference meeting Thursday evening, Scalise said of the situation, “It's been quite a journey. And there's still a long way to go. I just shared with my colleagues that I'm withdrawing my name as a candidate for the speaker designee.”

Scalise referenced the internal divisions that continue to plague his fellow party members, saying, “This country is counting on us to come back together. This House of Representatives needs a speaker, and we need to open up the House again. But clearly, not everybody is there. And there's still schisms that have to get resolved.”

Despite having prevailed in the aforementioned nomination vote, Scalise reportedly encountered difficulty in terms of winning the support of colleagues, with some having expressed concerns about his health status, which includes a recent diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

As Fox News noted at the time, Scalise announced in August that he was suffering from what he called a “treatable” form of blood cancer and declared his intention to remain working while receiving treatment for the condition.

“After a few days of not feeling like myself this past week, I had some blood work done. The results uncovered some irregularities and after undergoing additional tests, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a very treatable blood cancer,” the congressman said.

Scalise added, “I have now begun treatment, which will continue for the next several months. I expect to work through this period and intend to return to Washington continuing my work as Majority Leader and serving the people of Louisiana's First Congressional District.”

As the Examiner notes, however, not everyone on the Republican side of the aisle in the House was convinced about Scalise's ability to persevere in such demanding roles, citing his illness as a reason to support another candidate for the speaker's job.

Discussing the challenges Scalise has faced in securing enough votes to take the gavel and the role his diagnosis plays in the scenario, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) stated, “It is a concern for a lot of members. It is part of the reason why I think he's having trouble getting to 217.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene echoed Roy's sentiments, saying, “I like Steve Scalise, and I like him so much that I want to see him defeat cancer more than sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress.”

“I lost my father to cancer, and it's a very serious battle. We need a speaker who is able to put their full efforts into defeating the communist democrats and save America,” she added.

With renewed calls for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to re-enter the fray in the fight for the speaker's chair, it remains to be seen whether he will throw his hat back into the ring, or whether another candidate capable of uniting the party will emerge in the coming days as the clock keeps ticking and impatience grows over the leadership vacuum that currently prevails in the House.

Written By:
Sarah May

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