Jennifer Shutt, West Virginia Watch
U.S. House Republicans elected Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise as their nominee for speaker Wednesday following a secret ballot vote in a closed-door conference, according to Republicans leaving the meeting.
“We need to make sure we’re sending a message to people all throughout the world, and that the House is open and doing the people’s business,” Scalise told reporters after the meeting.
Scalise did not confirm whether he had all the votes from his party to take the gavel, but said “we’re gonna have to go upstairs on the House floor and resolve this and get the House reopened again.”
The next step for Scalise, who currently is the majority leader, will be garnering the support of nearly all his GOP colleagues to win a floor vote to become speaker, replacing former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California.
The nominee picked in the conference meeting only needed to get the backing of a majority of the 221 House Republicans, but Scalise will need about 217 on the floor before he can hold the gavel.
When asked whether he would vote for Scalise, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, said “We’re going to go figure it out. Vote’s pretty close.”
“We need to quit having this place run the way it’s run,” he added on how he could be convinced to support the Louisiana Republican.
Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma told reporters as he left the meeting that he will run for House majority leader.
Republicans haven’t yet announced when a floor vote will take place, though the House is scheduled to come into session at 3 p.m.
Reps. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, Ashley Hinson of Iowa and John James of Michigan gave nominating speeches for Scalise. His path to the nomination was smoothed when Republicans tabled a proposal by Texas Republican Chip Roy to change the rules on how a nominee was selected.
The other candidate was Ohio’s Jim Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Reps. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, Erin Houchin of Indiana and Mike Carey of Ohio nominated Jordan.
Reps. Tim Burchett of Tennessee and Matt Gaetz of Florida who voted to oust McCarthy said they would support Scalise on the floor.
“Long live Speaker Scalise,” Gaetz, who filed the motion to vacate McCarthy, said.
The new speaker will have several crises to address as soon as the swearing-in is over.
The first task will likely be addressing the situation in Israel, which is under an ongoing attack from Hamas and possibly other organizations.
Scalise said if elected speaker, one of the first orders of business for the House is to pass a resolution showing the United States support for Israel.
Congress will need to approve supplemental funding expected to be requested by President Joe Biden, an issue that will garner strong bipartisan support. Biden has said he wants Congress to take “urgent action” on Israel’s security needs.
Scalise, if elected speaker, will need to work with the Democratic Senate to pass some type of government funding bill ahead of a Nov. 17 deadline. Additional aid to Ukraine could be attached to that package, or a bill carrying aid to Israel.
Scalise also would be tasked with fundraising, protecting centrist Republicans and wrangling far-right conservatives to support his agenda.
However, there are some GOP lawmakers who still plan to vote for Jordan on the House floor such as Rep. Max Miller of Ohio.
He said he’d back Jordan “because he’s not in leadership.”
“Trust has been shattered in that room,” Miller said. “The only way, in my opinion, that you regain that trust is with a whole new set of people.”
Florida Rep. Kat Cammack said after the closed-door meeting she doesn’t believe Scalise will get the votes needed on the floor to become speaker
“I think that what’s going to happen at three o’clock is going to be a continuation of the chaos that has plagued the House.”
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