Capitol chaos continues as House GOP tries to elect a new Speaker…again

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Protesters greet House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, April 17, 2023, in New York. Jordan held a committee hearing there in an attempt to intimidate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is prosecuting former President Donald Trump. Jordan is now in the lead, maybe, to be Republicans’ pick for Speaker of the House. | John Minchillo / AP

WASHINGTON—The chaos continued on Capitol Hill this week as the House’s ruling Republicans tried to elect a Speaker—again. On the evening of Oct. 12, things got even worse.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., had defeated ultra-MAGA Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in an internal Republican conference vote, 113-99. But he started losing votes fast and withdrew from the race. That left Jordan, a co-founder of the hard right “Freedom Caucus” as next in line, maybe.

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But expect virtually nothing positive to come out of whoever winds up in the Speaker’s chair.

Jordan, who became infamous as Donald Trump’s histrionic uber-defender during Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings, hews to the line of “no compromise with your enemies,” the Democrats. On anything. And that’s the MAGAites’ stand.

They’d kill the opposition, literally, if they could. Instead, the MAGAites settle for cuts in social programs, no compromises to keep the country running, and scheming at measures to deprive people of their voting rights, among other right-wing priorities.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. Now the House Judiciary Committee chairman, longtime Republican stalwart Jordan has emerged as a top contender to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who was voted out of the job by a contingent of hard-right conservatives on Oct. 3, 2023, led by Gaetz. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

How right-wing are Jordan and Scalise? Scalise once told a Louisiana reporter that he’s “David Duke without the baggage.” Duke was the national Ku Klux Klan leader the state Republicans nominated for governor in 1991.

Scalise had told Republicans in their closed-door caucus that he would continue the impeachment investigation against Democratic President Joe Biden, a probe proceeding without any evidence. Jordan’s Judiciary Committee is holding the impeachment hearings.

More importantly, Jordan shows no willingness to negotiate with the White House or Democratic-controlled Senate in order to govern. The weak former Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at least agreed to a budget deal with Biden to prevent default and accepted the Senate-passed bill to keep the government going until Nov. 17. He lost his job as a result.

This time, another government shutdown, and Biden’s demands for military aid to Ukraine and Israel all loom over the balloting. The GOP is split on Ukraine aid, but both parties are competing to see who can be more pro-Israel after war with Hamas broke out.

Jordan uses his Judiciary chair to push hot-button social issues—such as outlawing abortions nationwide and banning diversity and inclusion training for workers, particularly in the military, where people of color are overrepresented. He also treats workers, especially federal workers, as piñatas.

Both cater to the corporate class, which is happy to see the federal government grind to a halt. That means it can’t regulate their excesses or chase their crooks, such as former Ohio Republican state House Speaker Larry Householder, recently sent to jail for 20 years for running a $60 million bribery scheme.

OpenSecrets.org, which traces amounts and sources of campaign and lobbying spending, reports Jordan gets his campaign cash—21% of it in the 2018 cycle alone—from ideological or single-issue groups, such as anti-abortionists, Citizens United, the House Freedom Fund, the Freedom Works PAC, and the heavyweight, and corrupt, gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

Whether all this will be enough to win Jordan the Speaker’s chair—he needs 217 of the 222 House Republicans to win in the current 433-member House—is up for grabs, even with Scalise out of the race.

Jordan supporters had grumbled over his loss and some planned to vote for him on the House floor. Scalise supporters may well do the same thing, and Scalise, while withdrawing, pointedly refused to endorse Jordan. That would deny Jordan a majority. The 211 House Democrats plan to vote for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to be Speaker.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg


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