Jim Jordan fails to win House speakership on first ballot

By Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell, Jack Forrest and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT) October 18, 2023
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7:06 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Rep. Jim Jordan lost his first vote for House speaker Tuesday. Here's what you should know

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, Melanie Zanona, Annie Grayer and Haley Talbot

Rep. Jim Jordan leaves the office of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer on Tuesday.
Rep. Jim Jordan leaves the office of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer on Tuesday. Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

Rep. Jim Jordan failed to win the House speakership on his first bid Tuesday, leaving the House in paralysis after 20 Republicans opposed the Ohio Republican.

The vote, in which Jordan failed to secure a majority of the full House, was a disappointment for Jordan’s allies who had expressed hopes that the number of holdouts would be in the single digits.

After the first vote, the House recessed and Jordan shuffled between the speaker’s office and the majority whip’s office holding meetings.

It’s now been two weeks of high-stakes chaos over the speaker’s gavel following the unprecedented ouster of Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The House’s slim margin is what led to McCarthy’s removal at the hands of a band of eight GOP rebels – and now a similarly sized group of House Republicans could block Jordan’s ascension, too.

Here's what else you should know:

  • Today's vote: Twenty Republicans voted against Jordan, including House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger of Texas, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado and a quartet of New York Republicans in purple districts. The anti-Jordan contingent cast six votes for McCarthy, seven votes for Scalise and three for former New York GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, among other alternatives.
  • What the GOP is saying: GOP Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a longtime Rep. Kevin McCarthy ally who voted for him on the first ballot in the speaker vote, told reporters he will vote for Rep. Jim Jordan on the second ballot. GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez, who voted for Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker during the last vote, said he would never vote for Jordan but would consider other candidates. McCarthy defended Jordan, saying that Jordan “has just as many votes as I had on the first round.” According to multiple sources, the former speaker is counseling Jordan on speaker strategy. GOP Rep. John James, who voted for Rep. Tom Cole, said he would be open to supporting Jordan in future voting rounds. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and John Rutherford both indicated that they aren’t likely to change their votes in future voting rounds after voting for Rep. Steve Scalise. 
  • What Democrats are saying: House Democrats all voted for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who got more votes than Jordan for speaker, 212 to 200. Democrats bashed the prospect of Jordan becoming speaker after objecting to the 2020 election result and ignoring the January 6 committee’s subpoena in the last Congress. While Democrats said they would keep supporting Jeffries for speaker, there was some discussion about the possibility of helping an alternative consensus candidate.
  • What's next: Jordan had initially considered holding a second vote on Tuesday, but told reporters the House will vote again Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. ET. As Jordan meets with a number of allies in hopes of swaying key holdouts, GOP sources say his opposition could grow if the votes continue over multiple rounds of ballots. 
6:27 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Jeffries indicates Democrats are open to empowering McHenry and says informal talks have "accelerated"

From CNN's Sam Fossum and Manu Raju

Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry presides over the House of Representatives as they prepare to vote on a new Speaker of the House at the Capitol Building on October 17, in Washington, DC. 
Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry presides over the House of Representatives as they prepare to vote on a new Speaker of the House at the Capitol Building on October 17, in Washington, DC.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries indicated that his caucus would be open to reaching some form of agreement with “traditional Republicans” to reopen the House, saying that informal conversations have “accelerated” the last few days and that it’s his hope they will continue.   

When asked by CNN’s Manu Raju if he was open to further empowering interim Speaker Patrick McHenry, Jeffries indicated he was open to the possibility. 

“Our focus right now relates not just to any one individual, but to getting the institution reopened. I have respect for Patrick McHenry. I think he is respected on our side of the aisle. There are a whole host of other Republicans who are respected on our side of the aisle. Jim Jordan is not one of them,” he told CNN. 

Jeffries also said that conversations between senior Democrats and Republicans have “accelerated” in recent days and that it’s his hope they will continue to do so tonight. 

“The informal conversations that have accelerated over the last few days, my hope, now that it's clear Jim Jordan lacks the votes to be speaker that those conversations will accelerate this evening,” Jeffries said, adding that he has no meetings planned with the interim speaker but that “high level members on the Democratic side of the aisle are ready, willing and able to have those conversations.”

He also said: “Paging my traditional Republican colleagues. It's time to get off the sidelines, break away from the extremists. Get in the arena, so we can find a bipartisan path forward.”

Jeffries indicated that Ukraine aid and aid to Israel would have to be part of the agenda when the House reopens.

6:12 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Rep. Jim Jordan’s flailing speakership bid has exposed fault lines in House GOP leadership

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Annie Grayer

Rep. Jim Jordan on Tuesday as the House of Representatives met to elect a new Speaker of the House at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
Rep. Jim Jordan on Tuesday as the House of Representatives met to elect a new Speaker of the House at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan's loss on his first ballot for House speaker Tuesday and his effort to win the gavel despite facing 20 holdouts from within his party, has begun to expose cracks forming within the leadership of the House GOP.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik have been working behind the scenes to help Jordan flip votes this afternoon, multiple sources familiar tells CNN. But Majority Leader Steve Scalise has decided not to get actively involved – illustrating how the current top Republican leaders are taking different approaches to the speakership drama, with emotions still raw inside the conference. 

After Scalise dropped out of the race and Jordan went on to become the nominee last week, Scalise immediately committed to voting for Jordan and encouraged his supporters to do the same. But, Scalise rebuffed a request from Jordan to give a nominating speech on the floor on Tuesday. And after Jordan failed to secure the speakership on the first ballot, Scalise was noncommittal about helping Jordan further, a source added. 

Jordan’s allies were hoping that Scalise supporters would help whip fellow Scalise allies who voted against Jordan. But Scalise’s allies feel like they did far more to rally around Jordan than Jordan did when Scalise initially won the nomination last week. 

It’s not the first time that the speakership scramble has exposed fault lines in the upper ranks of House GOP leadership. 

After Jordan secured his party’s speaker nomination, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged the conference to rally around Jordan, according to multiple lawmakers in the room. 

It was a notably different posture than the one McCarthy took toward Scalise, his former top deputy who has long been seen as his potential rival. McCarthy did not give a speech after Scalise secured his party nomination on Wednesday, sources said.

And now, McCarthy has been counseling Jordan on his speaker’s race strategy, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation, a far more active role than he appeared to be playing when Scalise was the speaker nominee. 

McCarthy and Jordan were seen huddling on the floor on Tuesday, and after the first ballot, Jordan decamped to the former speaker’s suite. One source noted that McCarthy — who went through 15 rounds of voting before securing the gavel — “has been there before.”

5:38 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Jordan says next speaker vote will be at 11 a.m. ET tomorrow

From CNN's Manu Raju, Haley Talbot and Sam Fossum

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who lost his first bid for House speaker earlier Tuesday, announced that a second vote will take place at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Jordan fell significantly short of winning the speaker’s gavel on a first ballot Tuesday, leaving the House in paralysis after 20 Republicans opposed the Ohio congressman.

Jordan told CNN’s Many Raju that he will “keep going” and they’ve had “good conversations this afternoon.” 

“No one in our conference wants to see a coalition government with the Democrats. We are going to keep working. We will get to the votes,” he said. 

When pressed on how many ballots Jordan will go he said “we have to get a speaker.” 

Jordan said the expected return of Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Jordan supporter who missed the first vote to be at his mother-in-law’s funeral, should help him and insisted they are chipping away at the holdouts. 

He pointed to the fact on the first ballot he had a similar number of defections as former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who was still able to win the gavel in January after 15 ballots.

5:13 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Jordan is at risk of seeing his opposition grow over multiple ballots, sources say

From CNN's Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona

As Rep. Jim Jordan meets with a number of allies in hopes of swaying key holdouts to his speakership bid, GOP sources say his opposition could grow if the votes continue over multiple rounds of ballots. 

Jordan is now meeting with key chairmen and top Republicans in House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s office as they try to lean on holdouts and make offers to win their support.

A GOP source said that some members only committed to backing Jordan for speaker on the first ballot so opposition to the Ohio Republican could grow in future votes.

5:18 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Analysis: Here's what you should know about Jim Jordan

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

There’s one main thing to know about Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who does not yet have the votes to become speaker of the House of Representatives.

He’s a passive skeptic of the 2020 presidential election results, but was an active election denier who appeared at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Pennsylvania and also appears to have played a role in former President Donald Trump’s post-election strategy to overturn the results.

Jordan, to this day, does not acknowledge that Trump lost in 2020.

Here are other important elements of Jordan’s professional biography:

  • Not a legislator: Jordan has played a very specific role in Congress, and it is not that of dealmaker, the main job requirement of modern House speakers. In fact, Jordan has never been the primary sponsor of a major piece of legislation that was enacted into law. The Center for Effective Lawmaking ranks members of Congress based on the amount of major legislation that bears their fingerprints, and Jordan’s rating is one of the lowest. Pushing for legislation is clearly not his priority.
  • Attack dog extraordinaire: If you’ve watched a House hearing meant to provide oversight of a Democratic administration, Jordan was probably involved. He was a chief critic of Hillary Clinton during rounds of hearings related to the death of a US ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. More recently, he’s among the top Republican voices building up a political dossier to imply, without direct evidence, that President Joe Biden sought to benefit from his son Hunter’s career.
  • Main contact for Trump’s allies on January 6: When Trump’s then-attorney and henchman Rudy Giuliani wanted to continue to try to delay the counting of electoral votes after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, Jordan was among the lawmakers he called.

Read more about the Ohio Republican.

5:00 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

Jordan holdouts demand immediate second vote

From CNN's Melanie Zanona

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart boards an elevator after the House of Representatives failed to elect a new Speaker of the House on the first round of votes at the U.S. Capitol Building on October 17, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart boards an elevator after the House of Representatives failed to elect a new Speaker of the House on the first round of votes at the U.S. Capitol Building on October 17, 2023 in Washington, DC. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

GOP Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, who voted against Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker on Tuesday's first ballot, sent a letter to interim House Speaker Patrick McHenry demanding an immediate second vote on electing a new speaker. 

Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas and House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger, two other Republican Jordan holdouts, said they agree. 

The vote has not yet been scheduled, but Jordan’s team has vowed to force another floor vote today. 

4:10 p.m. ET, October 17, 2023

McCarthy counseling Jordan on speaker strategy, sources say

From CNN's Melanie Zanona

Kevin McCarthy — who was ousted as House speaker earlier this month — has been counseling Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on strategy for his own speakership bid, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.  

Jordan and McCarthy were seen huddling on the floor Tuesday, and Jordan, after losing a floor vote on the first ballot, decamped to the former speaker’s suite. 

One source noted that McCarthy — who went through 15 rounds of voting before securing the speaker's gavel in January — “has been there before.”