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House Fails to Elect New Speaker After Two Votes, Continuing Legislative Paralysis

Published: October 18, 2023
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) walks through a hallway in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On Oct. 18, the U.S. House of Representatives, in its second vote on the matter, failed to elect a new speaker after GOP favorite, Jim Jordan, was unable to win the 217 votes needed to secure the position.

At the time of reporting, the House’s failure to elect a new speaker means a continuance of the current legislative paralysis gripping the lower chamber of U.S. Congress, and has prompted some to suggest empowering interim speaker, Patrick McHenry, with additional powers so the House can function amid a growing list of crises. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, Jordan failed in his bid to become Speaker of the House after all Democrats and 20 Republicans declined to vote for him. The House has been without an elected leader since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the speakership on October 4, an ousting led by a small group of members of his own party.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Democrat members of the House nominated Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to the speakership who attracted 212 votes, 12 more than Jordan’s 200. 

On Wednesday, Jordan lost ground among his Republican peers, garnering two fewer votes from Republicans than he did on Tuesday. A total of 22 Republicans voted against his bid to become speaker on Wednesday.

Democrat Jeffries received the same amount of votes on Wednesday, 212, as he did after Tuesday’s vote.

It took 15 votes for former speaker, Kevin McCarthy, to be elected to the position.


Interim speaker needs more power

Amidst a growing list of domestic and international crises, chairman of the Republican Governance Group, Rep. Dave Joyce, is calling for speaker pro tempore, Patrick McHenry, to receive more powers.

Ex-House Speaker McCarthy chose McHenry to serve as interim speaker should he be ousted, which occurred earlier this month when eight Republicans and all Democrats voted to have him removed. 

According to Fox News Digital, Joyce is expected to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to expand McHenry’s powers. 

Joyce told Fox News on Wednesday morning, “After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options. By empowering Patrick McHenry as speaker pro tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new speaker is elected.”

Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez, who continues to vote for McCarthy on the House floor, agrees. “If we don’t get to a speaker in a day or two, I think we need to move forward in getting the House back in business, and so any resolution that would give McHenry more power to do that…I would be in favor of,” he said according to Fox News. 

McHenry, who in the past has indicated he does not want the role, may actually be a viable candidate.

“While McHenry has maintained that he has no interest in the role, he is rapidly emerging as a likely consensus candidate that at least some Democrats could agree to,” Fox News reported. 

Joyce is expected to table his resolution following the Wednesday vote, as reported by Punchbowl News, which broke the story.

Lawmakers will have to vote on whether or not to terminate the resolution or allow it to pass within two legislative days, according to House rules.