House Republicans are abandoning a push to empower a temporary speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry, after it faced fierce pushback within the party on Thursday.
As they left a nearly four-hour internal meeting about the idea, multiple Republicans said there was no virtually no path forward. The proposal, which may still come back for a vote at some point, would have allowed McHenry and the GOP to reopen the House after 16 days without a speaker.
Many Republicans view that task that many viewed as critical, given pending deadlines on government spending and an imminent White House aid request for Israel and other nations in crises.
“It certainly does not have the support in conference and to bring it to the floor. It would have to survive with Democratic votes,” Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) said. “We’re currently sitting on a tinderbox. So to do that, it would set off the fuse that would certainly end in civil war within the GOP, and I don’t believe that anybody wants to do that.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) summed it up succinctly: “The resolution is dead.”
It’s the latest setback for House Republicans who have foundered in near-total bedlam since eight Republicans joined with Democrats to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) 16 days ago. No member of their conference, including speaker designee Jordan, currently has the votes to win over the speaker’s gavel.
The abrupt about-face on the McHenry resolution — after momentum behind it had grown steadily for days — leaves the GOP in yet another dead-end rut. Some Jordan allies suggested that he could force a third ballot on the floor, though multiple Republican lawmakers have warned that his opposition will only grow on another vote.
Talks are ongoing about a potential alternative approach that could accomplish the same goal as the resolution from Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), but Republicans are warning against bringing anything to the floor unless it has a majority of the conference in support.
“The language that was being floated is dead. … mostly dead,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a Jordan ally. “This can’t be one of those deals where we have Republicans voting no and hoping yes. It just can’t be, so we better have some resolve in how we’re doing it.”
Joyce insisted he is not entirely pivoting away from his plan. He pointed to pockets of the GOP conference that remain adamant about being able to move legislation on the floor in the coming days and weeks.
“I didn’t hear it was dead. I think there are some of these folks in there who wish it was dead. But I think the overwhelming majority of the people in there agree that we can’t continue down in this paralysis when the world is on fire,” Joyce said.
Conservatives, in particular, praised Jordan’s decision not to pursue the idea of empowering McHenry — an idea that had emerged from the GOP’s more centrist wing.
“I think that’s a good thing. The House of Representatives needs a speaker, not a Speaker Lite. I don’t support using temporary powers for Mr. McHenry,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said.
Florida Rep. Scott Franklin told Max Cohen, congressional reporter of Punchbowl News, that “as a group we just decided that’s not moving forward,” referring to the McHenry temporary empowerment resolution. “Jordan’s gonna go make some more phone calls, we may see another vote today.”
During a press conference, Jim Jordan said he will still be running for House Speaker.
“I’m still running for speaker and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race, but I want to go talk to a few of my colleagues..”
JIM JORDAN: “I’m still running for Speaker and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race, but I want to go talk to a few of my colleagues..” pic.twitter.com/5Wpr7WPCCx
— ALX 🎃 (@alx) October 19, 2023