WASHINGTON — Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., on Thursday night informed Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he was dropping his bid to be House speaker, one day after he captured the GOP’s nomination for the top job.
Moments later, Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in leadership, confirmed the news to reporters outside the room.
“I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as candidate for the speaker designee,” Scalise said after walking out of the room.
“Our conference still has to come together and is not there. There are still some people that have their own agendas. And it was very clear we have to have everybody put their agendas on the side and focus on what this country needs. This country is counting on us to come back together,” Scalise continued.
“This House of Representatives needs a speaker and we need to open up the house again. But clearly, not everybody is there. And they’re still schisms that have to get resolved.”
Scalise’s stunning decision came after he held three hours of meetings with GOP detractors and allies, and failed to flip any of his critics to the yes column. It became clear at that point that Scalise would not be able to secure the 217 GOP votes needed to be elected speaker on the House floor.
The decision throws the House into further turmoil, nine days after an unprecedented move by eight Republican rebels to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., mid-session. It is unclear who can find the votes to unify the fractured — and narrow — majority of 221 House Republicans.
Speaking to reporters, Scalise declined to say if he was throwing his support behind another candidate. “I’m not getting involved,” he said.
Scalise’s announcement came one day after he was nominated by Republicans in a secret-ballot vote to be the majority party’s speaker designee, defeating Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, by a vote of 113-99.
Moments after Scalise withdraw, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said Republicans should move forward with Jordan as their choice.
“I voted for Jim Jordan in the conference election yesterday and I remain committed to doing everything I can to help elect him the next Speaker of the House,” Banks said. “He is a conservative fighter and a leader who can unite our party.”
It’s also unclear Jordan, a right-wing firebrand who chairs the Judiciary Committee, could get 217 votes to secure the job.
Scalise won over some McCarthy opponents, most notably Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., but failed to flip others. His fate was likely sealed after he lost support from multiple Republicans who voted to keep McCarthy in the position, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.