Scalise drops out of speaker race

Scalise drops out of speaker race

The House GOP’s pick for speaker, Steve Scalise, announced Thursday he will no longer seek the gavel as he confronted a likely insurmountable vote shortage.

While Scalise had won a majority of votes in an internal GOP ballot a day earlier, he faced an ever-growing list of Republicans who vowed to support only his opponent, Rep. Jim Jordan, on the floor. The Ohio Republican is now expected to make another run for the position.

“Clearly, not everybody is there. And there are still schisms that have to get resolved,” Scalise told reporters, minutes after revealing his decision to a closed-door conference meeting.

The Louisiana Republican’s decision stunned many of his colleagues who expected him to continue whipping votes across the conference through at least the weekend. The conference is now expected to pivot to Jordan in its frantic scramble to appoint a speaker, more than a week after former speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted, though private doubts remain in the conference that Jordan won’t be able to secure the support either. Some still believe a third contender is the more likely option.

As he left the conference meeting, Jordan praised Scalise as a “great American” and declined to say whether he’d mount his own bid for speaker: “Any type of announcement about what may or may not happen is best done tomorrow”

Acting Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) was noncommittal, too, when asked if he’d run, telling reporters: “it’s up to the will of the conference”

In his remarks to reporters, Scalise was blunt about his own frustration with the various forces within the conference that kept him from lining up those 217 votes.

“There’s some folks that really need to look in the mirror the next couple of days and decide are we going to get back on track? Are they going to try to pursue their own agenda? You can’t do both. And I think we’re going to get there,” Scalise said.

“We still need to get a speaker and I’m going to continue to push as hard as we can to make that happen as quickly as it has to happen. But it wasn’t gonna happen today. It wasn’t going to happen tomorrow. It needs to happen soon.”

One Republican who emerged from conference, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), made clear he would push to elect Jordan on the floor.

“I voted for Jim Jordan in the conference election yesterday and I remain committed to doing everything I can to help elect him the next Speaker of the House,” Banks said. “He is a conservative fighter and a leader who can unite our party. Republicans have a lot of work to do and if Jim Jordan is in the Speaker’s chair we will get it done.”

Scalise, meanwhile, is expected to remain in his post as No. 2 Republican.

“He’s gonna still be a majority leader. I’ve been in that exact same position that he was back in 2015,” former speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters Thursday.

Asked if he would he supported Jordan, McCarthy said: “I like Jim a lot.”

Olivia Beavers contributed.

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