Steve Scalise Drops Out Of Speaker's Race, Leaving Republicans In Turmoil

“I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for the speaker designee,” the Louisiana Republican said.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has withdrawn from the race to become the chamber’s next speaker.

“It’s been quite a journey, and there’s still a long way to go,” Scalise told reporters. “I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for the speaker designee.”

“If you look at where our conference is, there’s still work to be done.”

The decision sends the party back to the drawing board as it works to find a Republican who can appeal to at least 217 House lawmakers following the shock removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this month. Another meeting is planned for Friday morning.

The decision is a turn of fortune for Scalise, who came out of a closed-door meeting on Wednesday ahead of his only other competitor for the speakership, Representative Jim Jordan.

Jordan, who earned the endorsement of former President Donald Trump last week, had thrown his support behind the majority leader in an effort to see the party move forward, and Scalise had spent most of Thursday trying to woo more votes.

But many of Jordan’s supporters refused to align with Scalise, leaving him without the votes needed to win. Some Republicans came up with odd reasons not to support him, ranging from a lack of phone calls to claims he isn’t conservative enough.

Others, however, were livid with their colleagues.

“What do you want, a fucking massage?” Representative Dan Crenshaw told HuffPost of his fellow lawmakers. “This is just childish.”

Scalise’s withdrawal potentially brings both Jordan and McCarthy back into consideration.

Jordan did nothing to dispel that idea, saying any announcement he would make would have to wait until Friday.

“Look, when I decided to run before, I waited until the next day after Kevin made his decision. I thought that was appropriate. I’ll do the same thing now, I’ll wait,” he said.

McCarthy, who has flipped between being open to being drafted to be speaker again and then also seeming to close the door by saying there were already candidates, went back to leaving the door open.

As he left the meeting, McCarthy was asked if he would run again for speaker.

“Let the conference decide,” he said.

Representative Ralph Norman said Jordan should be next up to try to gather the 217 votes needed.

“We’ll see” if he can, Norman said.

The House floor has basically been shuttered since October 3 without a speaker, and some House Republicans are beginning to look at options in addition to quickly finding someone who could knit together 217 votes.

One idea would be to give the interim speaker, Representative Patrick McHenry additional power that would allow the House to consider legislation.

Representative Maria Salazar said a group of moderates is circulating a petition to empower McHenry, though it’s not clear how or even if that is legally possible.

But others in the conference are wary. As the first speaker pro tempore to replace an ousted speaker, McHenry’s actions could be taken as a precedent for the next time a speaker pro tem is named.

There are signs that the constant daily meetings without a resolution are beginning to wear on Republicans.

Noting security concerns related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene said, “I think we should either be voting or leaving.”

Scalise said in his announcement that the party remained fractured after McCarthy’s ouster and cited “schisms that have to get resolved.”

“There are still some people that have their own agendas,” Scalise said on Thursday. “And I was very clear, we have to have everybody put their agendas on the side and focus on what this country needs.”

“I think we’re gonna get there,” he added. “Ultimately, we have to come together for the country.”

Represenative Jeff Van Drew said some conference members had already left Washington and would need to come back. “If we have to stay for the weekend, we have to stay for the weekend,” he said.

But the whole experience has been dispiriting, he said.

Van Drew recalled Oklahoma humorist Will Rogers’ joke that he was not a member of any organized political party because he was a Democrat.

“I think the reverse is true now. I’m not a member of any organized party, I’m a Republican,” he said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Republican who is part of an effort to empower the speaker pro tem. The Republican is Representative Maria Salazar, not Representative Monica De La Cruz.


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