Trump ally Jim Jordan loses vote for US House Speaker

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Jim Jordan lost a vote to become Speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, after 20 members of his own party voted against the firebrand Ohio Republican and staunch Donald Trump loyalist.

Earlier, Jordan indicated he would be willing to pursue multiple votes in order to be elected Speaker. But he faces an uphill battle if he is going to seize the Speaker’s gavel and end weeks of uncertainty in Washington.

The House went into recess immediately after Jordan lost the first ballot. But his spokesperson later issued a statement saying the House needed a Speaker “as soon as possible” and to “expect another round of votes today”.

Republicans hold a razor-thin majority in the House, meaning Jordan could only afford to lose a handful of votes from his party. He will need to win over at least 16 of his fellow Republicans if he is to win any further floor votes to secure the speakership.

Jordan’s defeat reflects a deep divide among House Republicans, and adds to the chaos that has gripped Capitol Hill in recent weeks at a time of mounting geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East.

The House cannot legislate without a Speaker, leaving doubts about whether the US can increase funding for embattled allies Israel and Ukraine. The House must also approve legislation to fund the federal government by the middle of November, or risk a costly government shutdown.

Jordan’s Republican detractors have taken issue with everything from his pugilistic attitude to his refusal to admit that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Of the 20 fellow Republicans who voted against him in the initial ballot, six cast protest votes for Kevin McCarthy, the former Speaker. Another seven voted for Steve Scalise, the House majority leader, while three voted for Lee Zeldin, the former Republican congressman and one-time candidate for governor of New York. Four others cast one ballot each for other congressmen.

Earlier in the day, Jordan was bullish about his chances, telling reporters on Capitol Hill: “We need to get a Speaker today, and we feel really good about where we are at.”

Speaking at a Manhattan courthouse, Trump reiterated his endorsement of Jordan, calling the 59-year-old congressman a “fantastic young man” who was “very strong” and had “very proper opinions about our country”.

“I think he is going to have the votes soon, if not today, over the next day or two, and I think he will end up being a great Speaker.”

The vote came after a dramatic two weeks in Washington, spurred by the removal of McCarthy as Speaker at the hands of a rebellion of eight members of his own party, who objected to him working with Democrats to avert a government shutdown.

McCarthy’s removal left the lower chamber of Congress rudderless, as Republicans struggled to coalesce around a successor and the House was unable to take up key pieces of legislation, including more foreign aid for Israel and Ukraine.

Jordan, the chair of the House judiciary committee and a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, emerged as the party’s nominee for Speaker late last week after Republicans failed to unite behind a candidate in several rounds of secret ballots.

Republicans control the House by a razor-thin margin, and Democrats have shown no willingness to endorse Jordan, who was described by House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries as an “extremist extraordinaire”. All 212 House Democrats voted for Jeffries for Speaker in Tuesday afternoon’s ballot.

Jordan appeared to have momentum on Monday afternoon, as several colleagues who initially opposed his candidacy said they would support him.

Jordan’s allies have not ruled out the possibility of multiple votes on the House floor in order to elect the Speaker. It took 15 rounds of voting in January to elect Kevin McCarthy.

Asked if he was willing to go as many rounds as McCarthy, Jordan replied: “Whatever it takes to get a Speaker today.”

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