Jim Jordan tries again for US speaker role – but Republicans will not back him

Jim Jordan is seeking a third vote (AP)
Jim Jordan is seeking a third vote (AP)

Jim Jordan looks to be failing again in a third ballot for the House of Representatives speaker’s gavel, rejected by a string of more mainstream Republicans who warned the ally of Donald Trump that no threats or promises could win their support.

The US House of Representatives were voting again on Friday, but Republicans have no realistic or workable plan to unite the party’s fractured majority, elect a new speaker and return to the work of congress that has been languishing since hardliners ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker at the start of the month.

Mr Jordan said at a press conference ahead of the session: “The American people are hungry for change.”

Drawing on his Ohio roots, the far-right Mr Jordan, who is popular with the party’s activist base of voters, positioned his long-shot campaign alongside the history of American innovators including the Wright brothers, urging his colleagues to elect him to the speakership.

“We need to get to work for the American people,” he said.

After two failed votes, Mr Jordan’s third attempt at the House gavel is not expected to end in success either.

Capitol painting
The Ohio congressman, a top Donald Trump ally, is looking to be the new House speaker, in Washington DC (AP)

In fact, Friday is likely to produce an even worse tally for the fiery judiciary committee chairman – in large part because more centrist rank-and-file Republicans are revolting over the hardball tactics being used to win their votes.

They say they have been bombarded with harassing phone calls, and some even reported death threats.

Mr Jordan, a founder of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said: “I’m still running for speaker and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race.”

But more than two weeks into the stalemate that has shut down the US House, leaving a seat of American democracy severely hobbled at a time of challenges at home and abroad, the House Republican majority appears to have no idea how to end the political turmoil and get back to work.

“He doesn’t have the votes to be speaker,” Republican representative Carlos Gimenez said after a meeting late on Thursday when Mr Jordan sought to hear them out and shore up support.

The holdouts want “nothing” from Mr Jordan, Mr Gimenez said, adding that some of the legislators in the meeting simply called on Mr Jordan to drop out of the race.

One extraordinary idea to give the interim speaker pro tempore, Patrick McHenry, more powers for the next several months to at least bring the House back into session and conduct crucial business was swiftly rejected by Mr Jordan’s own ultra-conservative allies.

Mr Jordan had backed the temporary speaker plan as a way to allow more time to shore up support in his own reach for the gavel.

“Asinine,” commented Chip Roy, a leader of the Freedom Caucus.

Next steps remain uncertain as frustrated Republicans predict the House could essentially stay closed for the foreseeable future – perhaps until the mid-November deadline for congress to approve funding or risk a federal government shutdown.

Jim Jordan
Mr Jordan insists he will get the vote over the line – but faces deepening opposition within his own party (AP)

“We’re trying to figure out if there’s a way we can get back with a Republican-only solution,” said veteran legislator Tom Cole.

“That’s what normal majorities do. What this majority has done is prove it’s not a normal majority.”

What was clear was that Mr Jordan’s path to become House speaker was almost certainly collapsing.

Representative John Rutherford said: “It’s not going to happen.”

After a first failed vote on Tuesday, Mr Jordan lost rather than gained ground on a crucial second ballot on Wednesday, opposed by 22 Republicans – two more than the day before.

Many view the Ohio congressman as too extreme for a central seat of US power, second in line to the presidency.

“One thing I cannot stomach or support is a bully,” said a statement from Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, who voted against Mr Jordan on the second ballot and said she received “credible death threats”.

With Republicans in majority control of the House, by 221-212, it appears there are no Republican candidates who can win a clear majority, 217 votes, to become speaker.