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Secret Ballot House speaker election underway between Jordan and favored Scalise


In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and Israel's continued battle with Hamas, an intense competition for the speakership has arisen within the House GOP conference. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will engage in a high-stakes election on Wednesday, following the removal of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) through a House vote.


Currently underway on Capitol Hill, the closed-door meeting where the secret ballot election will take place sets the stage for an intriguing development. Both Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Scalise presented their pitches and fielded questions during a candidate forum on Tuesday evening. However, multiple GOP lawmakers have revealed that no clear frontrunner emerged from this session.


Ahead of the GOP speaker vote meeting, Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) addressed reporters on Wednesday, declining to disclose her preferred candidate. "The candidate knows, but at this point in time, no candidate has secured the majority or the requisite number of votes needed to advance," she stated. "Therefore, we have a very eventful day ahead. I would advise you to be well-prepared."


Votes on legislation within the House have been momentarily suspended until a speaker is formally elected through a House floor vote. House GOP members have urged Congress to enact legislation to support Israel amidst the terror attack perpetrated by Hamas, resulting in the loss of over 1,000 Israeli lives and 14 American lives. Additionally, further debates regarding Ukraine war funding are expected during the process of drafting the next spending bill, which Congress must pass before the upcoming November 17th deadline in order to avert a government shutdown.


In a discussion with House members on Tuesday, Jordan stressed the need for another continuing resolution (CR) to ensure government funding, providing lawmakers with ample time to pass a more comprehensive appropriations bill. McCarthy had previously introduced a 45-day CR for a floor vote before being removed in an unprecedented manner just a week ago. This particular CR received votes from Democrats, causing discontent among the conservative wing of the GOP conference.


Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who initiated the motion to vacate the chair, alongside other conservatives, argued against governing through CRs in the GOP-led House. Gaetz advocated for the House to pass 12 "single-subject" spending bills separately, thereby curbing federal spending. Prior to McCarthy's ousting, the House had managed to pass four out of the 12 appropriations bills under his speakership, despite the subsequent adoption of the 45-day CR.


Following the conclusion of the candidate forum, Gaetz expressed his belief on Tuesday that both candidates would represent an improvement compared to McCarthy's previous tenure.


During a forum, Gaetz reported that Jordan expressed his support for a temporary spending bill incorporating "automatic cuts" to current spending levels. This proposal aims to buy additional time for the passage of individual spending bills. Other attendees disclosed that Jordan suggested a 1% reduction in spending under the CR.


Even though Gaetz remains undecided regarding his support, he mentioned that he will reflect on the matter. Scalise, on the other hand, reportedly committed to passing individual appropriations bills during the forum. However, he did not endorse another CR during his post-meeting press conference. Nevertheless, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene informed reporters that Scalise did mention the need for another CR at the forum, based on a report.


Rep. Ken Buck, one of the 8 Republicans who voted alongside Democrats to remove McCarthy last week, expressed his dissatisfaction with both candidates following the forum. Buck highlighted the possibility of other candidates emerging if the situation becomes chaotic. He stated, "I don't know that they are the only candidates who are going to arise. I think that we will have other candidates that step forward if this becomes a mess tomorrow. I think at three or four in the afternoon, if you don't see white smoke, we've got a mess."


After the forum, Rep. Kat Cammack remarked that "no one is close" to the simple majority of 218 required to win the speakership. Greene echoed similar sentiments after the forum, as reported.


Rep. Mike Garcia expressed uncertainty as to whether there will be a speaker nominee on Wednesday, stating, "I think it's 50-50 odds right now."


Rep. Nancy Mace, who also voted to remove McCarthy, endorsed Jordan after the forum while wearing a shirt with an A on it. She expressed, "I'm wearing the scarlet letter after the week I just had last week being a woman up here being demonized for my vote, my voice."


On Monday, McCarthy responded to House members who want him to remain speaker, stating that he will follow the decision of the GOP conference. On Tuesday, he confirmed that he asked members not to officially nominate him for the position before Wednesday's election.


Before the speaker election, the House GOP conference expects to vote on a rule change to increase the threshold needed to win the speaker nomination to a simple majority. This change would likely prevent the speaker vote on the floor from going through multiple rounds.


At this time, the specific date of the House floor vote for speaker remains unclear.

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