2 Republicans step forward as candidates to replace deposed U.S. House Speaker | CBC News

2 Republicans step forward as candidates to replace deposed U.S. House Speaker | CBC News


The race to replace ousted U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took shape on Wednesday as Steve Scalise, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, and Jim Jordan, a leading antagonist of U.S. President Joe Biden, said they would seek the post.

Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan both say they’ll seek Kevin McCarthy’s former post

Thomson Reuters


Republican Steve Scalise speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise — seen participating in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol last week — will seek to replace Kevin McCarthy at the U.S. House Speaker. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The race to replace ousted U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took shape on Wednesday as Steve Scalise, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, and Jim Jordan, a leading antagonist of U.S. President Joe Biden, said they would seek the post.

The two lawmakers could be joined by several other candidates in what could be a lengthy and likely messy battle to fill the post in the House where Republicans hold a majority.

Tuesday’s historic removal of McCarthy, driven by a rebellious faction of Republicans, marked the first time the chamber has removed its leader from a position that is second in line to the president after the vice-president.

Republicans have set an Oct. 11 vote to choose a successor and are due to meet the day before to hear from their candidates.

Diverts attention 

The leadership fight is eating into the time lawmakers have to extend government spending before it expires on Nov. 18 and update farm-subsidy and nutrition programs, among other tasks.

Scalise, 57, who has been getting treatment for cancer, has long been considered McCarthy’s heir apparent and has been meeting privately with Republicans to build support for his bid. He is seen as more conservative than McCarthy.

WATCH | McCarthy voted out: 

McCarthy ousted as U.S. House Speaker

Featured VideoThe U.S. House of Representatives ousted Kevin McCarthy as Speaker on Tuesday in a historic vote that involved heated words from both McCarthy supporters and detractors. The Republican was removed by eight members of his own party, who sided with 208 Democrats in a 216-210 vote.

He was critically wounded in 2017 when a man who had criticized Republicans on social media shot him and other party lawmakers as they were practising for a baseball game.

“We all need to come together and pull in the same direction to get the country back on the right track,” he wrote in a letter to Republicans.

Jordan, 59, a former college wrestler who has led investigations of the Biden administration, first gained prominence as a leader of the party’s right wing before eventually forming an alliance with McCarthy. He is known for eschewing suit jackets and is a vocal supporter of former U.S. president Donald Trump.

US Representative Jim Jordan speaks to members of the media in Washington.

Rep. Jim Jordan, seen speaking to members of the media in Washington on Wednesday, also intends to run. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

As chair of the Judiciary Committee, he is involved in the impeachment investigation into Biden and has tangled with state prosecutors who have filed criminal cases against Trump.

“We can focus on the changes that improve the country and unite us in offering real solutions. But no matter what we do, we must do it together as a conference,” he wrote to Republicans.

Both face potential challenges.

Jordan is viewed by some moderates as being too far to the right, and by some hardliners as too close to McCarthy. Scalise is seen by McCarthy allies as having done nothing to help him during the leadership challenge and faces questions about his physical ability to do the job, according to one Republican lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

McCarthy, who has yet to weigh in on who should be his successor, said Wednesday that he’s good friends with both Scalise and Jordan.

He added that “both would do great in the job.”

Hern considers bid, too

Rep. Kevin Hern, who leads a policy group for conservative lawmakers, also said he was considering making a bid for the speakership.

“I think we need to be pointing our guns outward, not at each other,” he told reporters.

Rep. Patrick McHenry is temporarily serving as speaker following McCarthy’s removal.

Rank-and-file Republicans said they were weighing their options.

“Everybody’s just taking a breath and in listening mode, without any serious commitments,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

McCarthy’s ouster is the latest factor causing Wall Street to worry about U.S. political governance, following the near-miss with a partial federal government shutdown and congressional Republicans’ flirtation with defaulting on the government’s $31.4 trillion US in debt earlier this year.

Those concerns, alongside worries about interest rates, have played a role in a sustained sell-off in government bonds.

Challenges for prior Speakers

The Speaker’s job has proven challenging for Republicans in recent years. The last Republican Speaker, Paul Ryan, retired from Congress after struggling to work with Trump, a fellow Republican. His predecessor, John Boehner, left after clashes with the party’s right wing.

Some Republicans said they needed to change the chamber’s rules to make it more difficult to remove a Speaker. McCarthy agreed to lower that threshold to allow any one member to challenge his leadership bid as a condition of winning support for the job in January, setting the stage for Rep. Matt Gaetz to do just that.

“Whoever is going to get my vote for Speaker is going to have to explain to me how what happened yesterday never happens again,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong.

WATCH | McCarthy vs. Gaetz: A match made in hell | About That: 

Kevin McCarthy vs. Matt Gaetz: A match made in hell | About That

Featured VideoKevin McCarthy has been ousted as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after a history-making vote led by fellow Republican Matt Gaetz. Kieran Oudshoorn breaks down how the pair’s tumultuous relationship led to this point.

McCarthy, who led a narrow 221-212 majority, relied on Democratic votes to pass a stopgap spending bill on Saturday to avert a government shutdown, which angered Gaetz and other hard-right Republicans.

The entire House — Republicans and Democrats — votes for the Speaker, who would hold the position until early January 2025, unless they were deposed as well. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is expected to run against any Republican candidate nominated by the party conference, as he did in January.

With files from The Associated Press


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