House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) revealed that “informal conversations” regarding a bipartisan governing coalition are underway amid an impasse over the House speaker vote.
“We have made clear publicly and privately that we are ready, willing, and able to enter into a bipartisan governing coalition,” Mr. Jeffries said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We can change the rules to facilitate bipartisanship, and that should be the starting point of our conversation,” Jeffries said.
Mr. Jeffries, in his NBC interview, did not provide more details about those conversations or who was involved.
The House has been without a speaker since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted in a historic vote earlier this month. House Republicans have since struggled to find a new leader, although Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was voted as the Republicans’ nominee, although he would need to gain 217 votes on the floor.
“We want to ensure that votes are taken on bills that have substantial Democratic support and substantial Republican support so that the extremists aren’t able to dictate the agenda,” Mr. Jeffries said during the interview. “The current rules of the House have facilitated a handful of Republicans being able to determine what gets voted on in the House of Representatives, and that undermines the interests of the American people.”
Mr. Jordan, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, became the nominee after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) withdrew from the speakership bid last week. However, Mr. Scalise defeated Mr. Jordan in a head-to-head vote for the nomination before that.
Republicans control the chamber by a narrow 221-212 margin, meaning they can afford to lose no more than four votes if Democrats vote against him, as they are expected to do. Over the weekend, Mr. Jordan reportedly called for a full vote on the House floor Tuesday.
The former House speaker, Mr. McCarthy, said that he backs Mr. Jordan in a comment to media outlets last week. That came as another lawmaker, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), announced his candidacy for the speaker’s gavel, although he ultimately lost to Mr. Jordan.
“I think Jordan would do a great job,” Mr. McCarthy said ahead of the vote last week. “We got to get this back on track.”
Mr. Jordan’s supporters have said his confrontational style could help in negotiating with Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate. “We need someone who is tough, who’s smart and can negotiate in that room. I think Jim Jordan can do it,” said Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.).
“Make him the speaker. Do it tonight,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), an ally of Mr. Jordan. “He’s the only one who can unite our party.”
Mr. Jordan also received the backing from the Republican party’s campaign chairman, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who said that the fighting GOP factions should unify.
“Removing Speaker Kevin McCarthy was a mistake,” he wrote on social media. “We must unite around one leader.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told reporters he was confident that the Ohio Republican could win the speakership but was concerned it may take several rounds of voting.
“It’s not popular to vote against Jim Jordan on the floor. He has the people’s support. So even if he didn’t get to 217 on the first round, I think his numbers grow under subsequent rounds,” he said.
In a social media post on Sunday, Mr. Massie noted that “some Republicans want to cut a deal with Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries to elect a Speaker,” noting that Democrats control the White House and the Senate. “We must not give up control of the House,” he added. “Republicans should unite behind Jim Jordan as our Speaker of the House!”
Reuters contributed to this report.