Jim Jordan loses second vote in US House Speaker bid

Jim Jordan has lost his second bid to become US House of Representatives Speaker as rank-and-file resistance to his candidacy swells in the chamber.

The right-wing Ohioan again fell short of the 217 votes he needed, after 22 of his fellow Republicans voted against him, two more than did so on Tuesday.

Mr Jordan's team indicated a third vote would take place on Thursday.

Talk is growing in the House of empowering acting Speaker Patrick McHenry for a period of 30 to 90 days.

The idea has been floated by members of both parties, but it is unclear if such a move has enough support among Republicans as a fall-back option.

It has been 15 days since Kevin McCarthy was ousted in an unprecedented coup spearheaded by a right-wing faction.

Without a Speaker, the lower chamber of Congress is unable to pass any bills or approve White House requests for emergency aid. That includes potential help for Israel amid its war with Hamas.

Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry
A plan to temporarily empower acting Speaker Patrick McHenry is gaining some traction

Democrats have so far offered no help on what they call "a Republican problem", voting unanimously each time for their leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Over the weekend, Jordan allies mounted intense lobbying efforts behind the scenes to persuade holdouts to back his bid, but the latest push made little headway overnight.

The Trump-backed House Judiciary Committee chairman earned 200 votes in the first roll call on Tuesday, and 199 on Wednesday.

Mr Jordan could only afford to lose four Republican votes in a chamber that his party controls by a slim 221-212 majority.

Colleagues cheered as Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, nominated Mr Jordan, whom he called an "honourable man" with "a spine of steel" who offered a way out of the House's "chaos and uncertainty".

But silence fell on the chamber as Mr Jordan's fate was sealed less than halfway through the second vote.

The candidate, who is rated in right-wing circles as a fighter, said he was staying in the race and would "keep talking to members" in an effort to win their votes.

"We don't know when we're going to have the next vote, but we'll have conversations with our colleagues," he said.

Watch: Jim Jordan: Three things to know about the conservative firebrand

Patience is running thin, however, as the chamber's leadership crisis collides with escalating problems at home and abroad.

Unless Congress approves more spending, the US government will run out of money next month. The White House is also scrambling to contain conflict in the Middle East and to top up funding for Ukraine's war with Russia.

"It's just painfully obvious that what a lot of our people want to do we can't do," Steve Womack of Arkansas said. "We'd like to elect a Speaker and we can't even do that."

"It's clear he doesn't have the votes," Mike Lawler of New York, who voted against Mr Jordan on both occasions, told reporters.

Mr Lawler, an ally of Mr McCarthy, said the former Speaker "never should've been removed".

He said it was now "imperative" to empower the interim Speaker, Mr McHenry, a North Carolina Republican.

Carlos Gimenez of Florida, another anti-Jordan holdout, wrote on X that Mr McHenry's temporary selection would allow Republicans to "get going with the business of the American people".

That approach has been backed by two former Republican House Speakers, Newt Gingrich and John Boehner, both of whom left their jobs amid right-wing revolts similar to what Mr McCarthy faced.

Illinois congressman Mike Kelly, whose throwaway vote for Mr Boehner prompted cheers on Wednesday, has submitted a proposal to name Mr McHenry as Speaker until 17 November or until a permanent choice is made.

That could buy Mr Jordan or somebody else time to shore up support - and it could also allow a Speaker McHenry to shepherd through legislation that funds the government.

But key lawmakers, including Pennsylvania's Scott Perry, the chairman of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, have said there is no way they will support any measure to empower Mr McHenry.

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