The House GOP’s two candidates for speaker on Tuesday detailed their plans for avoiding a government shutdown — a key issue for members, and one that sank Kevin McCarthy’s speakership.
During a closed-door meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan told members he wants a long-term, stopgap spending bill that would cut spending levels by 1% to give lawmakers more time to pass individual spending bills, according to multiple lawmakers in the room.
Rep. Don Bacon, a key moderate Republican, said he is leaning toward House Majority Leader Steve Scalise but was impressed by how “pragmatic” Jordan’s pitch was.
“Because of his past, I think we expected to hear the Freedom Caucus message — it was not that. It was very pragmatic,” Bacon said.
Scalise, however, didn’t go as far in suggesting the need for a stopgap bill but told members he wants to pass all 12 appropriation bills and force negotiations with the Senate.
“I think we’re voting not just for a speaker, but for the speaker’s plan to get us through the next 75 days. The appropriations cycle. And the biggest difference between Scalise and Jordan is Jordan has a plan to avoid a shutdown. And it wasn’t clear to me that Scalise does,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, who is backing Jordan.
Both Jordan and Scalise committed to supporting each other if they become the nominee, lawmakers said. And both committed to continuing the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, according to lawmakers in the room.
But Republicans leaving the candidate forum expressed skepticism that they would be able to quickly elect a new speaker.
“in case you haven’t noticed, we’re a pretty a divided conference right now. So I think this might take a little time to sort out,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong.
Asked by a reporter what the chances are that there will be a new House speaker by tomorrow, Massie said, “I’d put it at 2%.”
And Rep. Ken Buck, one of the members who voted to oust McCarthy, said he isn’t “thrilled” with either choice and predicted someone else may come forward tomorrow, but wouldn’t predict who.