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Jim Jordan lost his second attempt to become Speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, after 22 members of his own party rejected the firebrand Republican’s efforts to seize the gavel.
That was a worse result for Jordan than just a day earlier, when 20 Republicans voted against him in an initial ballot.
The vote cast further doubt on who, if anyone, would be able to unite the fractious House Republican conference and break the stalemate that has gripped Washington and rendered Congress impotent.
Jordan, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus and ally of former president Donald Trump, is vying to become Speaker of the House more than two weeks after Kevin McCarthy was ousted at the hands of eight members of the Republican party.
McCarthy’s removal exposed sharp divisions among House Republicans and left the lower chamber of Congress rudderless, unable to deal with legislation until a new Speaker is elected.
The impasse has created a leadership vacuum on Capitol Hill at a time when Congress is running out of time to avert another costly government shutdown next month, and under mounting pressure to underwrite more aid to Israel and Ukraine.
But Jordan faces an uphill battle if he is going to secure enough votes required. Any Speaker needs to be elected by a simple majority of the House. Yet Democrats have ruled out backing Jordan, calling him an “extremist extraordinaire”.
Because Republicans control the chamber by a razor-thin margin, Jordan can only afford to lose a handful of votes from his own party.
Many of his Republican critics, however, appeared immovable in their opposition. Some have taken issue with Jordan’s pugilistic attitude and his allies’ aggressive attempts to intimidate them into backing his bid for the speakership. Others object to his unwavering support for Trump, including his failure to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.
Jordan suggested on Tuesday that he would be willing to endure several rounds of voting in his effort to become Speaker. It took 15 rounds of voting to elect McCarthy in January.
But others have called on Jordan to step aside and allow yet another Republican to attempt to unite the fractious party. Some Republicans have suggested endowing Patrick McHenry, the acting Speaker who is overseeing the election process, with more powers so that Congress can push ahead with legislation in the absence of a permanent leader.