Future uncertain for speaker nominee Scalise in divided Republican caucus

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House Republicans are likely to meet behind closed doors on Thursday to try and hash out their differences ahead of a chamber-wide vote to elect the next speaker.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., won a closed-door conference vote on Wednesday afternoon to become the Republican majority’s next candidate for speaker.

But any confidence in a quick House vote to seal the deal dissipated quickly as several GOP lawmakers publicly announced they would not support him in a chamber-wide vote.

‘They knew I was with [Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio] in the room, and I thought I might go with Scalise if everybody was gonna get behind Scalise, that was fine, but it’s just not that way,’ said Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., after emerging from a meeting with the hardline-right House Freedom Caucus. ‘There’s just people that are not on his team.’

Scalise netted 113 Republican votes on Wednesday while Jordan won 99.

Some members said they were frustrated by Scalise allies voting down an earlier measure aimed at raising the threshold to elect a speaker candidate to 217 — a majority of the House.

‘I put the amendment forward this morning to say, let’s figure this out, because I can count votes. I’m not a whip, but I can count votes,’ said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who led the amendment that was backed by a significant number of GOP lawmakers.

‘I was just making it very clear that if you rush this to the floor, I’m a hard no. So we’ll go now have some conversations and go figure out where we’re gonna go.’

‘But I did not want this to go to the floor before we’re united, and we should have done that this morning,’ Roy said.

The tension among the fractured GOP caucus was palpable. When leaving a meeting with GOP leaders, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., the pragmatic leader of the Main Street Caucus, said the discord ‘does not look good for the House or for the country.’

‘Frankly, I think it would be easier in a political environment where people understood that governing requires some give and take,’ Johnson said. ‘ I never get everything I want in any negotiation. There are a lot of people around here who don’t understand that, and it makes it hard to govern. It is not a problem unique to the Republican Party, but it is on full display in our party today.’

Asked if Republicans need to huddle together in a room to settle their differences, Johnson joked: ‘I would like to be able to have the power to lock some people in some places, for sure.’

With the current makeup of the House, a GOP speaker candidate can afford to lose only four votes to win the gavel without Democratic support. As of Wednesday evening, at least 11 Republicans have said they will not vote for Scalise. 

It’s likely that Scalise allies will look to hold a vote as soon as viably possible — but it’s not immediately clear how soon that will be.

One Republican lawmaker who spoke with Fox News Digital said ‘Seems like we are a long ways off’ when asked if a vote could be expected Thursday.

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