Less than an hour into the House Republicans’ forum for hearing from would-be speakers, the number of candidates is already down by one.
Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) became the first candidate for speaker of the House to drop out of the race.
There are now eight Republicans vying to be speaker three weeks into the position being vacant.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was removed when eight Republicans joined all House Democrats in supporting a motion to vacate.
McCarthy’s hold on the gavel always looked tenuous. It took 15 ballots to elect the California Republican in January.
Since McCarthy’s ouster, House Republicans have nominated two candidates, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), to run for speaker.
Neither has been able to get the 217 votes on the House floor to win the office. All Democrats have voted for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), while large numbers of Republicans have defected and voted for other people.
Scalise and Jordan both dropped out after it became clear they were not going to win an outright majority of the House. This brought the GOP back to square one.
Republicans are hearing from prospective speaker designates at Monday night’s candidate forum. The conference is supposed to vote on a nominee Tuesday morning.
At some point afterward, the full House would vote on the nominee. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is serving as House speaker pro tempore, but his powers are limited. House Republicans decided against giving McHenry more authority to buy additional time in part because doing so would require Democratic votes.
Before Meuer’s withdrawal from the race, nine Republicans announced candidacies for speaker.
The narrow Republican House majority means that the party’s candidate for speaker can only afford to lose four votes without gaining Democratic crossover support.
Democrats have shown no indication of wanting to help Republicans elect a speaker, while the GOP is resistant to a candidate with bipartisan support.