Republican Rep. Jim Jordan again failed to win the House speaker’s gavel in a second vote on Wednesday, faring worse than he did during the first round of voting one day earlier.
Jordan signaled after the vote that he plans to stay in the race and keep fighting, but the loss raises serious questions over whether he has a viable path forward as he confronts steep opposition and the House remains in a state of paralysis. The defeat has also highlighted the limits of Donald Trump’s influence in the speaker’s race after the former president endorsed Jordan.
As pressure grows on Republicans to find a way out of the leadership crisis, some are pushing to expand the powers of the interim speaker, GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, though such a move would not be without controversy and has divided Republicans. Without a speaker, the chamber is effectively frozen, a precarious position that comes amid conflict abroad and a potential government shutdown next month.
During the first round of voting on Tuesday, 20 House Republicans voted against Jordan. On Wednesday, that number rose to 22, showing that the opposition against the candidate has grown. There were four new Republican votes against Jordan and two that flipped into his column. Given the narrow House GOP majority, Jordan can only afford to lose a handful of votes and the high number of votes against him puts the gavel far out of reach.
Following his second defeat on the floor, Jordan indicated that he is dug in on pressing ahead and told reporters he is still deciding if there will be another vote later in the day.
“We don’t know when we’re going to have the next vote but we want to continue our conversations with our colleagues,” he said.
“We’ll keep talking to members and keep working on it,” he added.
Jordan is a polarizing figure in the speaker’s fight, a complicating factor in his effort to lock down votes. He is a staunch ally of Trump, has a longstanding reputation as a conservative agitator and helped found the hardline House Freedom Caucus. As the chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, he has also been a key figure in House GOP-led investigations.
It took former Speaker Kevin McCarthy 15 rounds of voting in January to secure the gavel. But Jordan faces an uphill climb amid the deep divisions within the House GOP conference and the resistance he faces.
As the speaker battle drags on, tensions and frustration have risen among House Republicans. Some of the lawmakers who have voted against Jordan in the speaker’s race have railed against what they have described as a pressure campaign against them.
Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas derided what he called the “attack, attack, attack” tactics of Jordan allies against his Republican opponents.
“Frankly, just based on what I’ve been through – I can only speak to myself and what my staff has been through over the last 24 or 48 hours – it is obvious what the strategy has been: Attack, attack, attack. Attack the members who don’t agree with you, attack them, beat them into submission,” he said.
GOP Rep. Don Bacon’s wife received anonymous text messages warning her husband to back Jordan. Bacon has been a vocal holdout against Jordan and was one of the 20 Republican members that did not back Jordan on the floor in Tuesday’s vote.
“Your husband will not hold any political office ever again. What a disappointment and failure he is,” read one of the messages sent to Bacon’s wife and obtained by CNN through Bacon.
Bacon’s wife responded to that text saying, “he has more courage than you. You won’t put your name to your statements.”
GOP lawmaker voted for a congressman he didn’t want to be Speaker. Hear why
Opponents to Jordan’s bid so far have included centrist Republicans concerned that the face of the House GOP would be a conservative hardliner as well as lawmakers still furious at the small group of Republicans who forced out McCarthy and then opposed House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s bid for the gavel.
Scalise initially defeated Jordan inside the GOP conference to become the speaker nominee, but later dropped out of the race amid opposition to his candidacy.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.