Gaetz claims Jordan was 'knifed' by fellow Republicans in secret vote to strip nomination to be next Speaker

 October 21, 2023

Last week, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was nominated to be the next House Speaker but has subsequently lost three successive floor votes, and on Friday had that nomination withdrawn by the House Republican Conference in a secret ballot vote.

One of Jordan's most ardent supporters, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), decried the development by asserting that his choice to be Speaker was "knifed" behind closed doors in the "basement" of the Capitol building by his own GOP colleagues, according to Fox News.

The irony in that statement was tremendous given that the argument can and has been made that Gaetz, along with seven other House Republicans and all House Democrats, similarly "knifed" former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the back more than two weeks ago with the successful effort to oust him from that position.

Gaetz says Jordan was "knifed" anonymously by fellow GOPers

Fox News reported Friday that after then-Speaker-Designate Jordan had fallen short of the 217-vote threshold in a third-floor vote -- with him losing support on each vote -- the House GOP Conference held a secret ballot vote behind closed doors that resulted in the removal of his nomination to be the Speaker.

In response to that development, Rep. Gaetz took to social media and posted, "The most popular Republican in Congress was just knifed in an anonymous vote in a secret closed door meeting in the basement of the Capitol. This is the Swamp at work."

However, as noted, Jordan never would have even been in the position to be nominated as the next Speaker and then have that nomination revoked if Gaetz hadn't first joined with a handful of other dissident Republicans and all House Democrats to force ex-Speaker McCarthy -- who had the popular support of an overwhelming number of other House Republicans -- to vacate his leadership position after less than a year.

Possible candidates to be the next House Speaker

With Rep. Jordan now no longer the Speaker-Designate, The Hill reported that the "floodgates" have opened on a host of other candidates who are now vying to be the next House Speaker.

The presumptive frontrunner in what is now essentially a wide-open race is House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), who previously chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee, is already a member of the leadership team, and has the endorsement of ex-Speaker McCarthy to be his replacement.

Other possible candidates include Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee; Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), the vice chair of the House Republican Conference; Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), the chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee; and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), a rising star who has previously received votes from other members and would be the first elected black House Speaker in U.S. history.

Also in the running or considering a run are a few lesser-known congressmen like Reps. Jack Bergman (R-MI), Austin Scott (R-GA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Dan Meuser (R-PA), though other names could also emerge next week.

Legally questionable effort to empower temporary Speaker McHenry

Meanwhile, as House Republicans remain incapable of deciding who the next House Speaker should be, a separate effort is simultaneously underway to grant expanded power and authority to interim Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC), according to Politico.

McHenry was chosen by McCarthy to be his temporary replacement and, per House rules, he is essentially limited to only govern over the process of electing a permanent replacement, though some members have argued that the rules could be interpreted to grant McHenry full authority to govern normal House business in the interest of ensuring continuity and avoiding a prolonged shutdown of the lower chamber of Congress.

That theory is legally dubious and would undoubtedly be challenged if acted upon, and McHenry himself has said that he would resign from the interim position if forced to act beyond his perceived limitations.

There is, however, also talk of the House passing a resolution to temporarily empower McHenry as the Acting Speaker until January, if only to allow both critical and normal business to resume, while the search for a permanent Speaker continues. As of now, it is unclear if enough Republicans and Democrats would vote in support of such a move.

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