US Republicans name new candidate for speaker

Lazy eyes listen


Republican leaders have chosen Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise as their House speaker candidate. Scalise narrowly overcame Trump-backed conservative Jim Jordan to earn the nomination, but he will need to win over all of Jordan’s supporters in order to hold the position.

In a closed-door meeting of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Scalise defeated Jordan by 113 votes to 99. Jordan declared shortly after the vote that he would back Scalise if his candidature was put to a vote by the full House.

Scalise needs 217 votes to become Speaker. With the Republican Party having 221 House seats, the Louisiana member can only afford four defections, and while many of the 99 Republicans who supported Jordan have declared they will support Scalise, some have not.

Among them is Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor-Greene, a hardcore conservative who claimed on social media that she “voted for Jim Jordan for Speaker on a private ballot in conference, and will be voting for Jim Jordan on the House floor.” Greene stated that one of the main reasons she backed Jordan was his resistance to military help to Ukraine.

Jordan is now conducting the House Judiciary Committee’s inquiry into President Joe Biden’s potentially corrupt international transactions. He favours reduced government spending, increased border security, and a significant reduction or elimination of aid to Ukraine. These stances, together with his defence of former President Donald Trump during two Democrat-led impeachment investigations, garnered him Trump’s endorsement last week.

Scalise is more in line with the GOP’s mainstream, and he supports sustained aid to Kiev. In a speech following the vote on Wednesday, he stated that his first act as speaker would be to approve a resolution supporting Israel’s current conflict with Hamas fighters.

The House has been without a speaker since last Tuesday, when Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close Jordan supporter, scheduled a vote to remove California Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the post. McCarthy was accused by Gaetz of kowtowing to the Democratic Party by attempting to approve a large spending package and striking a “secret side-deal” with Biden to continue paying the Ukrainian military.
Without a speaker, legislation cannot be passed, and consequently additional funds for Ukraine or Israel cannot be authorised. Although Jordan, Gaetz, and an increasing number of Republicans oppose additional aid to Kiev, the White House is reportedly considering tying aid to both countries together in a single measure in order to ensure that both countries receive adequate funding.