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Ohio Republican Jim Jordan fails again to get the votes needed to be House speaker

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

It's déjà vu all over again in Washington. The House of Representatives, again, held a vote to elect a new speaker, and again, Republican nominee Jim Jordan failed to secure the votes to get the gavel.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And the Ohio congressman actually lost support on yesterday's second ballot. Twenty-two Republicans voted for someone else. That's up from 20 on Tuesday.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us now. Deirdre, kind of like watching "Groundhog Day," right? I mean, it kind...

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Right.

MARTÍNEZ: ...Of feels that way. Do you think anything will change today? Will the House finally elect a speaker?

WALSH: We could see that same movie again. I mean, a third ballot for speaker could happen later today, but right now, no Republican has the 217 votes needed to be elected speaker. There's no sign that any of the 22 members in that GOP group that voted against Jordan are going to change their votes. One of them, Arkansas Republican Steve Womack, predicted a third ballot would get, quote, "a lot worse" for Jordan.

MARTÍNEZ: And, you know, there's been some real blowback to the strategy of Jim Jordan's allies trying to wear people down and get them to vote for Jordan.

WALSH: It's really backfired. And even last night, Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks from Iowa, who supported Jordan on the first ballot but voted against him on the second, denounced the tactic from Jordan's allies and actually shouted-out fellow members of Congress, denouncing them. She said she received death threats and said, one thing I cannot stomach or support is a bully. Jordan condemned the threats, but some think he's not doing enough. A lot of these holdouts say this pressure campaign from right-wing media targeting lawmakers, flooding their offices with calls, is a reason why the resistance is hardening and perhaps expanding.

MARTÍNEZ: Are talks getting any more serious about Democrats maybe working with Republicans in a - kind of a power-sharing agreement?

WALSH: There are some who are pushing this idea that Patrick McHenry of North Carolina - he's the speaker pro tem who's presiding over the election - could get new authority to do things like bring up bills to avoid a shutdown later, to approve aid to Israel. A growing group of Republicans say it's important now to have a temporary speaker, at least for some period of time, so the House can function. McHenry insists he's focused on getting a Republican majority to elect a Republican speaker, but he seemed to crack the door open to his role maybe changing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATRICK MCHENRY: Obviously, this is unprecedented, what we're dealing with. My role here is to be determined, but I've constructed that as narrowly as the rules say I should, and we can't transact business until we elect a speaker.

WALSH: But any resolution to do this would have to pass the House with Democratic support. The minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, says he's open, but the details would still have to be worked out in terms of how long McHenry could serve and what he could do.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, I know President Biden is going to address the nation from the Oval Office tonight, going to ask for money for wars in Ukraine and Israel. What does this dysfunction in the House, Deirdre, mean for Congress approving those requests?

WALSH: I mean, the hurdle is just that much higher. Without a speaker, nothing can happen. There is broad, bipartisan support for approving money for Israel and for Ukraine. Senate leaders from both parties want to tie them together. But Jim Jordan and a lot of other House Republicans voted against any more money for Ukraine. That's a big reason why some Republicans who support aid continuing or running out are more openly talking about this idea of installing a temporary speaker.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thanks for keeping up with this saga, Deirdre.

WALSH: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.