Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) surprised many observers Thursday when he dropped his bid to become the next Speaker of the House. After failing to gain enough votes to secure the gavel, he told a closed-door meeting of Republican colleagues later that day that he was bowing out.
It is not clear where the House will go from here to replace ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
Scalise told reporters that he “just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for speaker-designee.” He said the GOP needs to come together but “is not there.”
Scalise exerted great energy in attempting to secure the necessary votes after rival Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) announced he was no longer in the running. The Louisiana Republican-held private meetings to furiously lobby those who resisted his candidacy.
He declared “there are still some people that have their own agendas.”
Many conservative Republicans, however, do not see a significant difference between Scalise and the man they pushed aside as speaker. Some also argue that he should instead be focused on his personal cancer battle and not leading the House.
BREAKING: Scalise Drops Out Of House Speaker Race — NEW Name Emerges
Who should be House Speaker??https://t.co/B8g7jghOJP
— Conservative Brief (@ConservBrief) October 13, 2023
Scalise urged that a new Speaker be chosen quickly, though he emphasized that he was not endorsing a particular candidate. “I’ve cut no deals with anybody. I’m sure there will be a lot of people that look at it. But it’s got to be people that aren’t doing it for themselves.”
The Louisiana senator won a GOP conference vote for the nomination, surpassing the total drawn by Jordan.
However, many conservatives said they will not vote for him when the decision gets to the House floor. The choice is critical as the Speaker is second in line in the presidential order of succession.
The House is moving into its second week without a Speaker. This virtually immobilized the body even as critical issues such as aid to Israel must be considered.
There is also the possibility of a federal government shutdown next month.
Scalise or any other Republican needs 217 votes to reach a majority and overcome Democratic opposition. A successful candidate for Speaker can only afford to lose a few GOP supporters due to the party’s narrow advantage in the House.
Former President Donald Trump, the 2024 Republican frontrunner, referenced Scalise’s battle with cancer in a radio interview on Thursday. “Well, I like Steve. I like both of them very much. But the problem, you know, Steve is a man in serious trouble from the standpoint of his cancer.”
Trump called the current stalemate “very interesting.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) took to social media to urge her colleagues to “stop dragging it out.” She noted that it took 15 rounds of voting to put the gavel in McCarthy’s hand in January, and the next Speaker may have to do “the same or more.”