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Jim Jordan lost a second House speaker vote. Here's what happens next.

Jordan loses support on 2nd speaker ballot
Jim Jordan loses support on 2nd House speaker ballot; 1 member votes for John Boehner 11:32

Washington — GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio failed in his second attempt to become speaker of the House, again falling short of the 217 votes needed to be elected and casting doubt about the way forward in the still-leaderless lower chamber.

Jordan won just 199 votes in the House on Wednesday morning, with 22 Republicans withholding their support and voting for a variety of protest candidates. All 212 Democrats voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the party's leader in the House.

Jordan's total was one fewer than the 200 he secured on the first ballot on Tuesday, a sign that he has struggled to make any inroads among the GOP holdouts. Four Republicans who voted for him on Tuesday defected in the latest vote, while he picked up support from two others. One member who was absent for the first ballot also supported Jordan in this round.

Where does the House go from here? The situation is fluid, but here are some possibilities:

What happens next in the race for House speaker?

The House went into recess indefinitely once the vote was over, and later adjourned until noon on Thursday. There are a few options for what could happen next. 

Jordan could stay in the race and continue trying to win over Republican holdouts. Or he could drop out and the GOP could go back to square one, restarting the process of nominating a candidate for the role. 

Rep. Jim Jordan talks to Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry as the House prepares to hold a vote on a new speaker of the House on Oct. 18, 2023.
Rep. Jim Jordan talks to Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry as the House prepares to hold a vote on a new speaker of the House on Oct. 18, 2023. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jordan vowed to continue to work to attract support, and gave no indication that he plans to drop out.

"Speaker McCarthy, he had a two-month runway from when he got the conference nomination and when we got to that first week in January, so we're right where he was in his numbers," Jordan said, referencing the span between the internal vote to nominate McCarthy held after the November midterm elections and the formal vote that took place on the House floor at the start of the new Congress.

The Ohio Republican continued: "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. So we'll keep talking to members, we'll keep working on it."

Asked whether he is staying in the race and feels that he is in good shape, Jordan replied, "Yep." He said he plans to meet with members individually.

Jordan could call a third vote

In the short term, Jordan could call another vote to try to shore up his support. That won't happen until Thursday at the earliest, Jordan indicated.

There is recent precedent for a candidate to prevail in a long, drawn-out speaker's battle. In January, the House stayed in session for four days and held 15 rounds of voting before McCarthy ultimately prevailed.

Speaker pro tempore Patrick McHenry's powers could be expanded

A third option that was gaining steam Wednesday would involve empowering the temporary speaker to remain in the job and oversee House business until a new permanent speaker can be elected.

Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina became speaker pro tempore when Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the job over two weeks ago, under a process laid out in the House rules. His powers under those rules are unclear and untested, but he has largely limited his actions to those needed to elect a new speaker.

Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry holds the gavel prior to a vote inside the House chamber on Oct. 18, 2023.
Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry holds the gavel prior to a vote inside the House chamber on Oct. 18, 2023. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The idea under consideration now would involve a House vote to formally elect him speaker pro tempore for a limited amount of time, elevating his status above his current designated role and giving him the authority to bring certain types of urgent legislation to the floor. This would almost certainly require the support of Democrats, some of whom seemed open to the idea.

Jordan himself said he wanted the House to vote on the proposal, but indicated that it was up to McHenry to bring it forward.

Who supports empowering the speaker pro tempore?

Several moderate Republicans who don't support Jordan for speaker have proposed empowering McHenry to stay in the role with expanded powers. Some see it as the path of least resistance to move forward and get the House back to work, with a deadline fast approaching to avoid a government shutdown.

"By electing Representative McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives, the House will be able to hold votes necessary to fund the government beyond the expiration of our current fiscal year," Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania said in a statement Monday.

Kelly introduced a resolution that would elect McHenry speaker pro tempore until Nov. 17 or until a new speaker is elected, whichever comes first. Former GOP Speakers Newt Gingrich and John Boehner also encouraged the House to expand McHenry's powers.

GOP Rep. David Joyce said Wednesday that he will attempt to file a motion to elect McHenry as the permanent speaker pro tempore.

"After two weeks without a speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options. By empowering Patrick McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new speaker is elected," Joyce said in a statement.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a Florida Republican who opposes Jordan and has said he will not be persuaded to change his mind, also posted on social media to urge giving McHenry more authority.

What do Democrats say about empowering McHenry?

Democrats would almost certainly demand concessions from Republicans in exchange for their support to elevate McHenry.

Jeffries, the Democratic leader, did not dismiss the idea when asked on Tuesday.

"I have respect for Patrick McHenry. I think he is respected on our side of the aisle. There are a whole host of other Republicans who are respected on our side of the aisle," he said. "Jim Jordan is not one of them." 

He said Democrats weren't actively seeking a power-sharing agreement at this point, because "we recognize that the Republicans temporarily hold the gavel" and Democrats "respect elections."  

Last week, four Democratic members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus wrote in a letter to McHenry that they "strongly support an immediate vote to expand the Speaker Pro Tempore's authorities to allow for the consideration of a legislative agenda limited to the most pressing issues," including foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel, a government funding bill and remaining annual appropriations bills. The proposal had gained more supporters as of Wednesday morning, including at least one Republican member, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Nikole Killion and Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting.

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