The Republican speaker fiasco continues

Yesterday the Republican members of the House of Representatives (there are 221 in all) met behind closed doors to hear from the two candidates Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan who put their names forward to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker. In order to prevent a repeat of the public humiliation that took place in January when McCarthy had to make all manner of deals to win over votes and even then it took 15 rounds of voting, this time the party decided that they would vote behind closed doors until one candidate got at least 217 votes, the minimum necessary to get a majority in the 433-member house (two seats are vacant due to resignations).

Scalise and Jordan are supporters of all the extreme Republican positions. Both are Trump loyalists who refuse to concede that he lost the election and have refused to condemn the actions of the January 6th rioters. Scalise has even given a speech to a white nationalist neo-Nazi group and reportedly once referred to himself as “David Duke without the baggage”. In a normal party, such things would hurt a politician but in today’s Republican party it is likely seen as a plus. Meanwhile Jordan has been dogged by allegations that when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, he turned a blind eye to rampant sexual abuse of about 300 wrestlers by the team doctor, claiming that he did not know what was going on.

But Jordan also refused to co-operate with an official investigation which found Strauss’s abuse was an “open secret”, and that “coaches, trainers and other team physicians were fully aware of Strauss’ activities, and yet few seemed inclined to do anything to stop it”.

At one hearing, another former wrestler, Adam DiSabato, said: “Jim Jordan called me crying, crying, groveling, on the Fourth of July … begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for half an hour. That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on here. He’s a coward. He’s a coward.”

Yetts has previously said: “If Jordan says he didn’t know about it, then he’s lying.”

Yes, these two are the best that they can come up with. Maybe they should rally around George Santos as their next speaker.

Since all 212 Democrats are going to vote for their leader Hakeem Jeffries, Republicans could afford to have at most four defections. After hearing from both, they took a secret ballot and Scalise won 113 to 99. After that, Jordan said that he would vote for Scalise for speaker.

Chalk this up as yet another endorsement loss for serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) who strongly supported Jordan. It just shows that when there is a secret ballot, his vaunted influence in the party evaporates.

Normally, when the losing candidate in a race throws their support to the rival, that would end the process with everyone rallying around the winner. But this Republican party is far from normal. Some Republicans are refusing to vote for Scalise, so the meeting was adjourned without having reached the 217 threshold, to reconvene today and try again. And possibly again. And again.

Seth Meyers provides commentary on this, George Santos, and the surprising sudden appearance of The Scarlet Letter


  1. birgerjohansson says

    To make this herd of congressmen prevent a government shutdown will take extraordinary measures.

    Ideally, Biden should use his ‘bully pulpit’ -on TV- to make it clear for the American people that it is the responsibility of the current majority of congress to make government work.

    If there is a shutdown, the president should remind voters that threats of shutdown were unheard of before the Republican Newt Gingrich, and there is no support in the constitution for congressmen sabotaging the government.

    The Republican congressmen will have received threats from MAGA voters, but the president should remind the public that those who serve in congress are supposed to put duty first- this is *not* an ordinary job even if some kooks in the chamber treat it that way.
    -Congressmen who cannot take the heat should step down and leave way for more able men and women.

    It is not as if they will be charged with desertion if they resign, but if they stay on and the governnent shuts down they will be resposible for every preventable death taking place during the chaos.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    It just shows that when there is a secret ballot, [Trump’s] vaunted influence in the party evaporates.

    Is his influence in the party really “vaunted”? If so, by whom? A fair proportion of the party aren’t shy about expressing open hatred of him. There are TEN who are standing against him for the nomination, and by definition they all think they can do a better job than him. The Republicans hated him before he was a candidate, REALLY hated him when he was a candidate, lined up fairly dutifully behind him when he was confirmed as the nomination, started to follow his lead when he was President, and many of them reverted to open hatred once he lost in 2020 and it seemed safe again -- although they may have misjudged that. We’ll see.

    Trump’s influence on the party is irrelevant. To a large extent, the party itself is irrelevant. Trump will be running on the Republican ticket*, and anything any other Republicans do is, for practical purposes, just noise, just like it was in 2015/2016.

    It’s his influence on the electorate that matters. Anyone suggesting that that’s gone anywhere needs to cite some pretty good sources for their position.

    *I was going to start that sentence with something like “barring him being in prison or having a massive stroke”… but short of being actually clinically dead, I’m struggling to see anything stopping him at this point. All this nonsense with failure to organise themselves enough to elect a speaker just goes to prove how ineffective the party is and how there’s certainly nothing THEY can do to stop Trump, much as they’d evidently like to.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Being clinically dead will not necessarily stop Trump. It did not stop the Great Leader of North Korea. There is also the final film about Doctor Mabuse to consider.

    BTW Jon Stewart shamed the congress into passing the PACT act, giving medical support to veterans that were poisoned during their service.
    Can we please ask him to perform another miracle and prevent shutdown?

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Our esteemed host will be able to recycle the headline of this post for quite a while:

    ‘We might never elect a speaker’: Republican House in complete disarray after meeting --

    … the caucus is so split … that no one can reach the 217 votes necessary to reach the position. …

    Republicans in the room told Punchbowl News that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) repeatedly refused to answer questions from at least three colleagues about his “plan.”

    He “just rambled and didn’t directly answer questions. No plan. Didn’t unify or inspire the conference,” one member told John Bresnahan. …

    Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), who is supporting Scalise, told Sherman that there are six “hard nos” against Scalise, which means without those he’ll never reach the votes necessary. “Based on what I’ve heard, I don’t [think] there’s gonna be a vote this week.”

  5. sonofrojblake says

    @birgerjohannson, 3:

    Being clinically dead will not necessarily stop Trump. It did not stop the Great Leader of North Korea

    Ah, but there’s a significant difference between those two. Kim was competent, hard-working and had an eye on the future. He also was able to think about something other than his own, personal, in-the-moment gratification. Trump, by contrast, I think would throw his own children under the bus if he thought one of them was showing something like ambition to replace him after his death.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Can the prospect of a government shutdown maybe scare some Republicans into abstaining from voting, potentially giving the Democrats the speaker position by “walkover” as the balance of votes shift?

    -In fact, the Republicans *should* threaten to abstain, as the result of continued obstruction by Gaetz et al will result in the archenemy (Democrats) getting control of the house.

  7. Mano Singham says

    birgerjohansson @#7,

    It is not enough to just get the votes to become speaker. To get anything passed, the speaker would need to be able to get a majority on every issue. Furthermore, all the committees would still be under Republican control. So a Democratic speaker would have little or no influence on events. No one would want that job.

    In the parliamentary system, one can have minority governments who have a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with other parties where the other parties agree to support the government on no confidence motions and on budgetary matters so that the government continues to function, but are free to vote against the government on other issues.

    That could be done in principle here too where some Republicans agree to support a Democratic speaker to pass a budget and debt ceilings so that there is no risk of default or shutdown. But as far as I am aware, this has never been tried.

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