(The Center Square) – House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La, both announced Wednesday their bid to replace Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as Speaker of the House.
A vote for a new Speaker is reportedly not expected until Oct. 11, giving lawmakers about a week to plan their next move. McCarthy, who was pushed out after striking a deal with Democrats to keep the government open, said he does not plan to run again for the position.
“I think Matt has planned this all along,” McCarthy told reporters. “It didn’t matter what transpired. He would’ve done it if we were in shutdown or not.”
Scalise’s and Jordan’s announcement comes after a handful of House Republicans joined Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from his role as Speaker of the House, the first time Congress has ever done so. Now, the House has until mid-November to elect a new Speaker and pass some kind of spending measure or face a government shutdown.
Scalise sent a letter to House Republicans asking for their support.
“Our strength as a Conference comes from our unity, and we have seen when we unite as a Conference, we can deliver wins for the American people,” the letter said. “Now we need to take those unified positions and work to extract conservative wins from the Democrat Senate and White House by leveraging upcoming deadlines. While we need to be realistic about what can be achieved, if we stay united, we can preserve leverage for the House to secure tangible wins in our impending policy fights.”
Jordan sent a similar letter to his fellow Republicans asking for their support.
“We must address rising crime in major cities and reject soft-on-crime, pro-criminal policies,” the letter said. “We must get our fiscal house in order and reduce spending so that we can leave more to the next generation than a crushing deficit. We must do our constitutional oversight of the federal bureaucracy to ensure they work for the American people not the other way around. And we must continue working to secure the border and protect our national security.
“I respectfully ask for your support for Speaker of the House of Representatives,” the letter added.
Jordan’s move was welcomed by some Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who filed the motion to oust McCarthy.
“We should get to electing a new, more conservative and more trustworthy Speaker immediately,” Gaetz wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I’m calling on [Patrick McHenry] who is currently the Speaker Pro Tem, to reconsider the decision that he just made to send everyone in Congress home for a week. This is not the time to go home for a week. We should stay and elect a new Speaker.”
Other potential frontrunners to replace McCarthy include Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and and Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla, who suggested he might run.
Some lawmakers spoke out to make clear they are not running.
“While I appreciate the confidence of some colleagues and their request that I step into the Speaker race, my team and I have been doing important work on the Homeland Security Committee – and we still have much more to do to hold President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas for one of the worst national security failures in the history of the country,” Rep. Mark Green, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, wrote on X.
“Therefore, I am not throwing my name into the race,” he added.
With the existing divide in the party, it may be impossible for any Speaker to be successful.
“The most important issue facing the next House speaker is soaring federal debt pushing the nation to the brink of fiscal disaster,” Chris Edwards, an expert at the Cato Institute, told The Center Square. “Interest rates on 10-year government bonds have shot up far above projections to 4.8 percent and rising, which will raise the burden of accumulated debt to crushing levels.
“America needs a new House speaker – and presidential candidates – who put spending restraint and debt reduction as top national priorities,” he added.