Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Washington — In the three weeks since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker of the House in a historic vote, the chamber’s Republican conference has been engulfed in chaos as it searches for a replacement.

The process so far has involved three nominees for speaker, with Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota becoming the latest to earn the nod and try to secure the 217 votes needed to win the gavel. Emmer dropped out within hours of receiving his party’s backing, thanks to opposition from former President Donald Trump and conservative lawmakers.

The effort to elect a new speaker began in early October, when GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida followed through on a threat to remove McCarthy after he worked with Democrats to avert a government shutdown. Here’s what has transpired since then:

Oct. 2

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, speaks to members of the media outside the Capitol on Oct. 2, 2023. 

Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz officially announces he will move to oust McCarthy as speaker by filing what’s known as a “motion to vacate,” a maneuver that forces a vote on the House floor.

Gaetz launches his effort to remove McCarthy just two days after the speaker reached an 11th hour deal to fund the government through Nov. 17. The Florida Republican claims the agreement allegedly involved a “secret side deal” to provide more support for Ukraine. Gaetz and a number of congressional Republicans oppose sending any more aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Oct. 3

Allies of McCarthy unsuccessfully try to table Gaetz’s resolution to declare the office of speaker vacant, with 11 Republicans voting against the effort to spare the speaker.

A final vote on the measure is then taken, and it passes 216 to 210. As a result, McCarthy is removed from his position as speaker, the first time in history a speaker has been voted out during a congressional session. Eight Republicans join with all Democrats to approve the resolution removing McCarthy.

GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California is seen in the Capitol after the House voted to remove him as speaker by a vote of 216-210, on Oct. 3, 2023. 

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Following the vote, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina is designated the speaker pro tempore. McHenry’s name topped a list submitted by McCarthy to the House clerk in January that laid out who would fill in as an interim speaker in case of a vacancy.

McHenry immediately recesses the House to allow for the Republican and Democratic conferences to “meet and discuss the path forward” before proceeding to the election of a new speaker.

Hours later, McCarthy announces that he will not run for speaker again.

Oct. 11

After a week of campaigning, Majority Leader Steve Scalise is selected by the Republican conference as the nominee for speaker by a vote of 113 to 99. He defeats Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a conservative firebrand, in the internal race held behind closed doors.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, speaks with members of the media in the Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. 

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oct. 12

Just one day after winning the speaker nomination, Scalise withdraws his candidacy. The majority leader tells reporters that “there are still schisms that have to get resolved,” an indication of the deep divisions among the GOP conference that would make it difficult for him to secure the necessary support to become speaker.

Oct. 13

Republicans select Jordan by secret ballot as their second nominee for House speaker in a closed-door Friday meeting. The Ohio Republican co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right GOP lawmakers, and served as its chairman. He is also one of the most ardent defenders of former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill. As leader of the Judiciary Committee, he is one of the chairs tasked with leading the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

Rep. Jim Jordan speaks to reporters as House Republicans hold a caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Oct. 13, 2023.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Jordan fends off a late challenge from Georgia Rep. Austin Scott in order to win the nod with the backing of 124 of his Republican colleagues.

Lawmakers head home for the weekend without holding a vote for a permanent speaker.

Oct. 17

The House convenes to hold its first formal vote for speaker. Republicans nominate Jordan, while Democrats select Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York as their candidate.

But after the first ballot, Jordan falls short of the 217 votes he needs to ascend to the speakership, winning 200 votes to Jeffries’ 212. Twenty Republicans vote for someone other than Jordan — seven GOP lawmakers vote for Scalise, six support McCarthy, and three vote for former New York Rep. Lee Zeldin. Receiving one vote apiece are Reps. Mike Garcia of California, Tom Cole of California, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Emmer.


Jim Jordan falls short in first House speaker vote

02:23

Jordan vows to press ahead, telling reporters, “We’re going to keep working, and we’re going to get the votes.”

Oct. 18

The House gathers for a second vote for speaker, with Jordan and Jeffries again nominated by their respective parties.

Jordan again fails to secure the necessary votes to become speaker and sees his opposition grow on the second ballot. In all, 22 Republicans withhold their support for the Ohio Republican, but he picks up votes from two GOP lawmakers who opposed him on the first ballot: Reps. Doug LaMalfa of California and Victoria Spartz of Indiana.

Some Republicans indicate they want the House to vote to give McHenry more authority to allow for consideration of a limited legislative agenda, though such an effort would likely require support from Democrats. 

Jordan again pledges not to step aside.

“We got 200 votes. You know, we picked up some today, a couple dropped off but they voted for me before, I think they can come back again,” he tells reporters. “So we’ll keep talking to members, we’ll keep working on it.”

Rep. Jim Jordan talks to reporters as he heads from his office in the Rayburn House Office Building to the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 18, 2023.

Getty Images

Oct. 20

The House holds a third vote for speaker, and Jordan continues to bleed support from fellow Republicans. On the third ballot, the Ohio Republican loses 25 GOP lawmakers in total. The final tally is 210 votes for Jeffries and 194 for Jordan.


Watch: House holds third speaker vote, Jim Jordan loses again

23:33

The GOP conference convenes for a closed-door meeting and votes by secret ballot to drop Jordan as the nominee for speaker — 86 members say Jordan should remain in the race, while 112 say he should not.

The vote leaves Republicans again searching for a speaker candidate who can unite the deeply divided conference.

Oct. 22

Nine Republicans meet a deadline to announce their candidacies for speaker, according to Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House GOP conference. The nine candidates for the speaker nomination are:

Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan
Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida
Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota
Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma
Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana
Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania
Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama
Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia
Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas

Only two of those nine voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Oct. 23

Republicans meet for a candidate forum, where the contenders make their pitch to their colleagues on why they should be nominated for speaker.

Meuser drops out of the race, bringing the total number of candidates to eight.

Before the forum, former President Donald Trump weighs in and declines to endorse any of the candidates. Instead, he tells reporters during a campaign stop in New Hampshire that “I’m sort of trying to stay out” of the race. It’s unclear how much weight Trump’s endorsement holds with the current GOP conference, as he threw his support behind Jordan, and his bid failed.

Oct. 24

Republicans gather behind closed doors for the third time to select their nominee for speaker. Palmer drops out of the race just before the meeting, bringing the field of candidates vying for the nomination to seven.

The party holds five rounds of voting in all, and the nod ultimately goes to Emmer, the majority whip.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sessions is eliminated after the first round, followed by Bergman after the second and Scott after the third. Donalds withdraws from the race after the fourth round, while Hern drops off the ballot. 

On the fifth and final ballot, Emmer goes head-to-head with Johnson and defeats him 117 to 97, lawmakers say. A subsequent roll call vote to gauge Emmer’s backing, though, sees at least 20 Republicans withhold their support, according to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York.

The level of opposition from the GOP conference indicates that Emmer will face an immense challenge in winning 217 votes. Shortly after Emmer clinches the nomination, Trump comes out against his candidacy for speaker despite saying he planned to remain on the sidelines a day earlier.

In a post to his social media site Truth Social, the former president claims Emmer “never respected the power of a Trump endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA — MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump goes on to say that “voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!” 

Later in the afternoon, Emmer told his fellow Republicans that he was dropping his candidacy for speaker, just hours after he won the nomination. 

The party heads back to the drawing board yet again, and five candidates submit their names for consideration following Emmer’s exit: Donalds, Hern, Johnson, Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, Mark Green of Tennessee and Roger Williams of Texas.

Republicans huddle for another candidates’ forum — their second in two days.

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