Representative Steve Scalise has made the decision to withdraw his candidacy for the position of US House Speaker after failing to gain enough support from fellow Republicans. This move has left the lower chamber of Congress in a state of uncertainty, as the previous Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, was voted out last week.
Speaking to the press on Thursday following a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers, Scalise stated, “I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for the Speaker-designee.” He expressed his disappointment in the prioritization of “their own agendas” by some of his colleagues and urged them to come together for the sake of the country.
Scalise narrowly defeated Trump-endorsed conservative Jim Jordan by a vote of 113 to 99 during a closed-door meeting of GOP lawmakers on Wednesday. Following this victory, the majority leader focused on winning over some of the staunch supporters of his rival.
Scalise’s bid for the speakership required the support of at least 217 votes, with the Republican Party holding 221 seats in the House. However, it appears that he was unable to convince enough fellow Republicans to back him, as some suggested he should prioritize his health. Scalise has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
With Scalise stepping aside, some members of Congress, like Representative Jim Banks, have called on their colleagues to support Jim Jordan for the position. Others have suggested giving Patrick McHenry, who was appointed interim speaker pro tempore, greater authority to lead the House temporarily.
Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has called for an end to the “GOP Civil War” among House Republicans, emphasizing the need for bipartisan cooperation. He expressed a willingness to find a bipartisan path forward if “traditional Republicans” break away from extremists and work together with Democrats.
The House has been without a speaker since last Tuesday when Representative Matt Gaetz, a close ally of Jim Jordan, called for a vote to remove California Representative Kevin McCarthy from the position. Gaetz accused McCarthy of compromising with the Democratic Party by pursuing an expansive spending bill and making a “secret side-deal” with President Biden to secure funding for the Ukrainian military.
The lack of a speaker in the House has stalled the passing of legislation, including the authorization of funding for Ukraine and Israel. It is crucial for the House to establish new leadership as soon as possible to ensure the continuation of important legislative processes.
In conclusion, Representative Steve Scalise has withdrawn his candidacy for the position of US House Speaker after failing to gain enough support from fellow Republicans. This decision has created uncertainty in the lower chamber of Congress, with the need to find a suitable replacement for the vacant speaker position. The ongoing discussions and debates among Republican lawmakers, as well as the call for bipartisan cooperation from Democratic leaders, underline the importance of resolving this issue promptly to resume legislative operations.