Emmer wins GOP speakership nomination on fifth ballot

Emmer wins GOP speakership nomination on fifth ballot

Tom Emmer won the House GOP’s speakership nomination after a grueling set of secret ballots Tuesday, teeing up his next and more challenging task — winning on the floor.

The Republican whip secured a majority of the conference, 117-97, according to two people familiar with the tally. But there are still significant doubts that the Minnesotan has the near-unanimous GOP support needed to secure the gavel from the full House.

He has not yet revealed his strategy for when he plans to take his candidacy to the floor — which he could do as soon as later Tuesday. But his allies have made clear he hopes to avoid the highly public spectacle that ended up dooming Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) by calling for a floor vote only after he’s landed the 217 votes he needs through private conversations beforehand.

As the GOP’s chief vote-counter, Emmer has had nine months of experience trying to wrangle votes from across the Republican conference with a four-seat margin for error. His allies have argued that those skills could help him cross the 217 threshold, getting him the speakership that Jordan and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) could not lock down this month.

Yet Emmer will need to win over his own group of holdouts if he wants to avoid being the third speaker nominee to go down after Kevin McCarthy’s ouster three weeks ago. That includes a bloc of dug-in Emmer skeptics that include allies of former President Donald Trump.

“I think it would behoove whoever wins this to stay in the room and figure out where they are at and whether they can get there,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) said. “I don’t think anybody is really interested in another three or four vote series” on the floor.”

But it’s not clear if any House Republican can get 217 votes at this point — a task that requires losing no more than four GOP votes.

Armstrong predicted the “vast majority” of Republicans would back Emmer, but added: “The problem is, if there are more than five, we’ve got a whole different problem again.”

Exasperated Republicans across the conference are adamant about resolving their speaker crisis this week, particularly given how close Congress already is to the Nov. 17 expiration of current government funding. On top of the need to avoid a shutdown next month, lawmakers also have to contend with the Biden administration’s $100 billion-plus emergency spending request, encompassing aid to both Israel and Ukraine.

“Congress can’t afford to waste any more time,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), one of several Republicans pushing a short-term plan to empower acting speaker Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) to allow the chamber to resume votes on the floor.

By the end of Tuesday, he predicted: “We should have a better idea” of what will happen.

Emmer backers, including McCarthy, have touted the Minnesotan’s leadership resume, which includes two stints as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Tom Emmer has the foundation, being the NRCC chair, being the whip, that he could jump right into this job,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), though he declined to reveal his own personal choice for speaker.

House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said he wasn’t concerned about Emmer’s lead and declined to say if he would refuse to support Emmer in the end. Asked about the majority whip’s voting record — which some conservatives in Perry’s group have scoffed at — he said: “Nobody is perfect.”

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