With US House leaderless, Jim Jordan to run for top post © Reuters. Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) walks back into the office of the Speaker of the House to gather his things after holding a press conference several hours after being ousted from the position of Speaker by a vote of the House of Represen

By Moira Warburton, David Morgan and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Representative Jim Jordan, a leading antagonist of Democratic President Joe Biden, became the first Republican on Wednesday to launch a run for Speaker of the House of Representatives to succeed the ousted Kevin McCarthy.

Jordan will likely contend with Steve Scalise, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, and 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.

Jordan, a combative conservative who has led investigations of the Biden administration, is the first to publicly say he is interested in the job.

“We need to unite the caucus, I think I can do that,” he told reporters.

A former college wrestler from Ohio known for eschewing suit jackets at congressional hearings and press conferences, Jordan, 59, first gained prominence as a vocal leader of the party’s right wing before eventually forming an alliance with McCarthy.

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 former President Donald Trump.

Other possible candidates include Scalise, who has been getting treatment for cancer, and Tom Emmer, the No. 3 Republican in the House. Representative Patrick McHenry is temporarily serving as speaker following McCarthy’s removal.

The leadership fight is eating into the time lawmakers have to avert a looming partial government shutdown, which would begin on Nov. 18 if Congress fails to pass legislation providing more funding.

“We’re in uncharted waters,” Republican Representative Byron Donalds told reporters after supporting McCarthy in a vote the speaker lost 216-210.

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

McCarthy, who led a narrow 221-212 majority, made the job even more difficult for himself.

During 15 grueling rounds of voting on his bid for the speakership in January, he agreed to change House rules to allow any one member of Congress to call for the speaker’s ouster, setting the stage for Representative Matt Gaetz to do just that.

“We can’t put a new speaker in place with this structure. It’s completely dysfunctional,” Representative Garrett Graves, a key McCarthy ally, told reporters.

Several Republican lawmakers predicted that it would take some time for them to unite behind a successor to McCarthy.


Democrats were stunned when Republicans dumped their own leader.

“I’ve been here for a while, and I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve never seen this,” Democratic Representative Jim McGovern told Reuters.

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

Congress is struggling to fund the government in the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Four days ago, lawmakers narrowly averted a partial government shutdown that would have stopped pay for more than 4 million federal workers and shuttered a wide range of federal programs.

McCarthy relied on Democratic votes to pass a stopgap spending bill which angered Gaetz and other hard-right Republicans.

The crisis also could complicate the party’s drive to tighten immigration laws and pursue its impeachment inquiry into Biden.


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