House Republicans chose majority candidate Tom Emmer as their next nominee for speaker, but he faces a difficult path to winning the support of 217 lawmakers on the floor.
After 21 days of dysfunction following Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster, the GOP eliminated candidates for speaker Tuesday morning in a series of secret votes to determine their next speaker candidate.
They started with nine declared candidates but reduced the number of candidates until Emmer received 117 votes — more than the 110 votes needed to secure the majority — putting him against GOP conference vice chairman Mike Johnson, R -La., who received 97 votes for Speaker-Commissioner. Five votes went to “other” candidates and one MP voted “present”.
Now lawmakers are holding a follow-up secret vote on whether local Republicans will actually vote for Emmer. He can only afford to lose four votes.
Since Kevin McCarthy’s ouster, Republicans have now burned through three speaker candidates. The move has paralyzed the House of Representatives, which will be unable to conduct business in less than a month until the government runs out of money again and the war between Israel and Hamas escalates.
First, Majority Leader Steve Scalise won a conference vote before dropping out due to opposition. Then firebrand Republican Jim Jordan tried to run for the post and lost by three votes before being ousted as the GOP nominee last Friday.
Whip Emmer has faced “anti-Trump” accusations and will face an uphill battle to get enough votes to be elected Republican leader.
Whip Tom Emmer was one of the early favorites in the speaker race when he arrived at the Republican convention Tuesday morning
Rep. Byron Donalds arrived at a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning
A well-known source told DailyMail.com that Emmer and Trump spoke over the weekend, calling it a “productive” conversation.
Trump confirmed during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday that the pair had spoken, but declined to elaborate, saying he planned to keep abreast of the fight.
“I think he’s my biggest fan now because he called me yesterday.” He said to me, “I’m your biggest fan.” “So I don’t know about that,” Trump said of Emmer.
Emmer also faces the potential threat of being the only candidate among the candidates to vote “yes” on the Equality Act – which the House of Representatives passed in support of gay marriage.
A Trump ally told DailyMail.com that Emmer’s vote for the Equality Act is seen as a “slippery slope” for social conservatives concerned about increasing male competition in women’s sports and other issues.
But Emmer supporters say the effort to label him anti-Trump shows the former president’s allies have “nothing left in the tank.”
Emmer’s allies also told DailyMail.com that he had been in contact with the MAGA camp over the weekend and that his supporters were making weekly phone calls to top Trump surrogates. The whip even has an autographed photo of Trump in his Capitol office.
Party leader Tom Emmer, the third-ranking Republican in the House, enjoys the public support of a half-dozen colleagues, including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said he “knows how to do the job.”
All local Democrats are expected to vote for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. But Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota has signaled he might vote “present” on the vote, lowering the threshold for Emmer.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar of California disputes that and says there are still “significant hurdles” to making it happen.
Republicans held a candidate forum Monday night where all nine declared speaker candidates made their case.
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., dropped out of the original nine-person race at the start of the forum last night because he didn’t have the support needed to compete.
On Tuesday morning, Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., was the next to drop out before the series of votes began, saying if his withdrawal would “accelerate” the process, he would “gladly” resign.
In the first vote Tuesday, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, dropped out of the race after receiving just eight votes.
Majority Whip Tom Emmer – the front-runner – got 78, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., got 34, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., got 29 and Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., got 28 Reps. Jack Bergman of Michigan and Austin Scott of Georgia followed the pack.
Bergman was eliminated after receiving seven votes in the second vote, leaving five candidates for the third round.
Emmer increased his support significantly to 90 votes, while Johnson received 37 votes, followed by Donalds with 33, Hern with 31 and Scott with 14 in the second round.
Rep. Mike Johnson spoke to reporters ahead of Republicans’ closed-door meeting to choose their next speaker
Bergman said after his defeat that “the House needs a speaker” and Republicans need to get to work. He pledged to support the incoming speaker-elect and said lawmakers should not leave the conference until they were “confident” that a candidate could garner 217 votes.
During the third round of voting, Scott was removed from the ticket, leaving four candidates remaining.
Emmer received the most votes so far with 100, followed by Johnson with 43, Donalds with 32 and Hern with 26.
Despite the farce of the last 21 days, some party members were optimistic that they could find a solution and get back to work.
“I think we’ll resolve this by tomorrow night,” moderate Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who voted against Jordan last week, told reporters Monday.
Asked if he agreed the process would be completed by Tuesday evening, speaker candidate Kevin Hern, R-Okla., told DailyMail.com: “I do.”
“I think it’s possible,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, another speaker candidate.
“I don’t know if anyone wants to continue past tomorrow,” said Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas. “We report and work for the American people, and they said, ‘Get your house in order’.”
In a move toward more unity, each candidate pledged to support whoever wins a conference vote in the House.
However, not every voting member has signed this pledge. “I didn’t sign the pledge,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who supports Donald. “I think we need to focus on making sure someone leads this party in the right direction.”
But as of Tuesday morning, Republicans were still far from uniting behind a candidate.
Asked if he agreed the process would be completed by Tuesday evening, speaker candidate Kevin Hern (right) told DailyMail.com, “I do.” He is attending the ongoing GOP convention on Tuesday morning
Rep. Steve Scalise spoke to reporters as he arrived at a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday
Rep. Matt Gaetz said he was promised “full release” of the Jan. 6 tapes by all the candidates in the room, but was “most encouraged” by the candidates who had plans for single-issue spending bills and pledged not to link aid to Israel and Ukraine.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a pragmatist from South Dakota, was less optimistic about finding a speaker by Tuesday.
“I like to be an optimist, but I have to tell you that the last four weeks haven’t given me a lot of reasons to be optimistic that Republicans will get this done.” “We continue to see those narrow margins,” he said.