Republicans Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise announce bids to become US House speaker

Trump does not endorse any candidate to succeed Kevin McCarthy and denies he encouraged move by Republican Party rebels to oust former speaker

Conservative congressman Jim Jordan, a strong ally of former president Donald Trump, has become the first politician to announce a bid to become the next speaker of the US House of Representatives. He was followed by Steve Scalise, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the House, who announced he would also seek the speakership.

On Wednesday Mr Jordan sent a letter to other members of the Republican Party in the House seeking their support for the role, which is second in line to the presidency, after the vice-president.

On Tuesday, eight right-wing Republicans rebelled and joined with opposition Democrats to oust speaker Kevin McCarthy from the role.

A hard right faction of the Republican Party had never been comfortable with Mr McCarthy as speaker and had pressed for deep spending cuts by the US government over recent months.


The right-wing rebellion against Mr McCarthy was launched after he relied on votes of Democrats to pass a temporary budget deal at the weekend, which averted an immediate US government shutdown.

A number of hours after he lost the no-confidence vote and was removed from office, Mr McCarthy said he would not seek re-election to the post of speaker.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump, who is attending his civil fraud trial in New York, did not endorse anyone for the role but ruled out taking the position himself – the US constitution does not specifically require the speaker of the House to be a member of Congress but historically this has always been the case.

Mr Trump said he was focused on his bid to win back the White House next year.

The former president also denied that he had encouraged Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz to table his motion to unseat Mr McCarthy as speaker.

Mr Jordan is the chairman of the House judiciary committee and has been one of the leading Republicans involved in investigations into the family of president Joe Biden over recent months.

Mr Jordan on Wednesday signalled that he was against further aid packages for Ukraine – funding which has increasingly been opposed by those on the right of the Republican Party. He said the priority for Americans was crime and immigration across the US southern border.

Among those who have also been suggested as possible contenders in the contest to become speaker include Kevin Hern, chair of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative members of the party.

Interim House speaker Patrick McHenry has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.

On Wednesday it emerged that shortly after taking up the role of speaker temporarily, Mr McHenry ordered the former speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, to vacate immediately an office she had been using in the US Capitol.

Another former member of the Democratic Party leadership in the House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer was also told to give up his office.

Ms Pelosi was not in Washington for the vote that removed Mr McCarthy from his post. She was in California for the funeral of her friend, the former senator for the state, Dianne Feinstein.

Divisions among Republicans in the House were on open display on Wednesday, with some allies of Mr McCarthy furious with Mr Gaetz.

On Tuesday night Mr McCarthy said the decision by Mr Gaetz to table the motion against him was “personal”.

“It had nothing to do about spending,” he said. “It all was about getting attention from [the media]. I mean, we’re getting email fundraisers from him.”

He said that was “not governing”.

Mr Scalise, who was critically wounded in 2017 when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball game and is currently undergoing treatment for cancer, announced his bid for the speakership later on Wednesday.

“I have a proven track record of bringing together the diverse array of viewpoints within our conference to build consensus where others thought it impossible,” he said.

Separately, Mr Biden urged politicians to change the “poisonous atmosphere” in Washington. He called on them to work on a new agreement on government spending before a last-minute deal which averted a threatened shutdown last weekend expires next month.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent