Dem 51
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If at First You Don't Succeed, Fail, Fail Again

As expected, Speaker-designate Jim Jordan (R-OH) forced a second floor vote for speaker yesterday. And, as expected, he came up short.

When all was said and done, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) got the same 212 votes that he got on Tuesday. Jordan picked up one vote from a member who was absent on Tuesday (Gus Bilirakis, R-FL), flipped two non-Jordan votes (Doug LaMalfa, R-CA and Victoria Spartz, R-IN), and saw four votes turn against him (Vern Buchanan, R-FL; Drew Ferguson, R-GA; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-IA; and Pete Stauber, R-MN). That's +1, +2, -4, for a net of -1. Put another way, Jordan dropped from 200 votes on Tuesday to 199 on Wednesday. This is known, to use some technical jargon, as "heading in the wrong direction."

The non-Jordan votes are all over the place. There have been Republican votes for former speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), former speaker John Boehner, former representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Reps. Mike Garcia (R-CA), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Tom Cole (R-OK), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Candice Miller (R-MI), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Bruce Westerman (R-AR). Here's a list of every Republican member who voted for a candidate other than Jordan at least once this week:

Member     District  Dist. PVI Biden 18? Round One Round Two
Don Bacon NE-02 EVEN Yes McCarthy McCarthy
Vern Buchanan FL-16 R+7 No Jordan Donalds
Ken Buck CO-04 R+13 No Emmer Emmer
Lori Chavez-DeRemer OR-05 D+2 Yes McCarthy McCarthy
Anthony D'Esposito NY-04 D+5 Yes Zeldin Zeldin
Mario Diaz-Balart FL-26 R+8 No Scalise Scalise
Jake Ellzey TX-06 R+15 No Garcia Garcia
Drew Ferguson GA-03 R+18 No Jordan Scalise
Andrew Garbarino NY-02 R+3 No Zeldin Zeldin
Carlos Giménez FL-28 R+2 No McCarthy McCarthy
Tony Gonzales TX-23 R+5 No Scalise Scalise
Kay Granger TX-12 R+12 No Scalise Scalise
John James MI-10 R+3 No Cole Miller
Mike Kelly PA-16 R+13 No Scalise Boehner
Jennifer Kiggans VA-02 R+2 Yes McCarthy McCarthy
Nick LaLota NY-01 R+3 Yes Zeldin Zeldin
Doug LaMalfa CA-01 R+12 No McCarthy Jordan
Mike Lawler NY-17 D+3 Yes McCarthy McCarthy
Mariannette Miller-Meeks IA-01 R+3 No Jordan Granger
John Rutherford FL-05 R+11 No Scalise Scalise
Mike Simpson ID-02 R+14 No Scalise Scalise
Victoria Spartz IN-05 R+11 No Massie Jordan
Pete Stauber MN-08 R+8 No Jordan Westerman
Steve Womack AR-03 R+15 No Scalise Scalise

We understand the statement being made by the members who are voting Scalise and McCarthy. We understand much less the point of voting for, say, Westerman or Granger.

In any event, what exactly is keeping Jordan from making it over the hump? Well, Don Bacon (R-NE), whose wife was obliquely threatened by one or more anonymous Jordan supporters, has voted against Jordan twice and was chortling yesterday that the wannabe speaker has "hit a brick wall" after "harassing our spouses." Meanwhile, Miller-Meeks, who was one of the new anti-Jordan votes, told reporters that she had received death threats after withdrawing her support for Jordan, and that she's working with the authorities to try to find the responsible parties.

In short, it sure looks like the Ohioan has burned his bridges with some of his colleagues. Actually, "burned his bridges" is probably putting it mildly. He's smashed the bridges into pieces, burned the pieces, buried the ashes 20 feet down, and then poured two tons of concrete on top. Point is, those bridges ain't coming back. Indeed, we cannot conceive of what he might do to flip 16-18 of the anti-Jordan votes. Consider again all of his liabilities:

What on earth could he possibly say to assuage concerns over any one of these things? Much less all of them? And the word is that in the next vote, currently planned for today, he is going to lose even more votes.

Given that Jordan looks to be toast, there is much discussion among members of the Republican conference about who might be the next candidate to put themselves through the wringer. All of the dozen names being bandied about are men, and all but one of them (Donalds) is white. This political party is not what you would call diverse, particularly in its upper ranks, although we are surprised that Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) isn't getting at least some buzz. The only thing that is clear is that while Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) might be given additional (temporary) powers, he has said he is not interested in the permanent job.

Since we're running out of things to say about Jordan, as he flails around, we thought we would try to think of solutions to the Republicans' problem. We've already written about the possibility of reaching across the aisle, but apparently that's more distasteful to the members of the House Republican Conference than drinking cow urine soda while having one's nether regions connected to an electric socket as the complete works of Michael Bolton play in the background. So, as we try to think creatively, we operate under the assumption that the Republicans must pick a member of their own party to be speaker, it must be accomplished with Republican votes only, but it cannot be achieved the normal way. Here are three out-of-the-box ideas:

  1. They agree to put the names of all 220 Republican members into a hat, and whatever name comes out is the next Speaker. The sortition approach would basically give every faction some chance to seat their kind of speaker, and yet would allow every member to disclaim specific responsibility for the person chosen ("I did not want to vote for Lauren Boebert for speaker, I was only honoring my word to support the sortition compromise.")

  2. They agree to choose a new speaker every month, so that no single selection is particularly fraught or momentous. If you don't like, say, Steve Scalise, just wait a month and he'll be out.

  3. They pick some objective criterion for choosing the speaker. In the Senate, the most senior senator of the majority party is usually pro tempore. Maybe the same approach could be used for picking the speaker (congratulations, Speaker Hal Rogers, R-KY). Or it could go to the most successful fundraiser, or the member who saw the most bills become law in the last 10 years.

None of these things is likely to come to pass, of course. Not only are these screwball solutions, but they would also require the Freedom Caucusers to abide by the decisions of the group. If the FCers were able to do that, then either Kevin McCarthy or Steve Scalise would be speaker right now.

That said, there is one bullet that is still in the chamber, and that nobody seems to be talking about. It only takes 110 votes to kick someone out of the House Republican Conference. And if a member is booted from the Conference, they lose their committee assignments. This threat could certainly be used to impose a little party discipline on members who would be able to do far less grandstanding if they no longer had committee meetings to grandstand in (ahem, Mr. Jordan).

Incidentally, speaking of off-the-wall solutions, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), a moderate, has a pretty wild suggestion for a "compromise" speaker. He proposes... George W. Bush. That is a suggestion that illustrates two things, in roughly equal measure. First, 15 years affords a lot of opportunity to forget the bad. If a Democrat had made that suggestion in 2010, he would likely have been drummed out of the party. Second, while Bush was plenty extreme by the standards of his day, the Republican Party has moved far enough to the right that he kinda does pass for a moderate now.

Anyhow, we shall see what today brings. Could be anything, but probably not Speaker Jim Jordan. Or Speaker George W. Bush. (Z)

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