Skip to content

House Republicans set speaker election schedule

GOP lawmakers were ‘furious’ about planned TV event, preferring to vet contenders privately

Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., talks with reporters after a House Republican Conference meeting on Sept. 19.
Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., talks with reporters after a House Republican Conference meeting on Sept. 19. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House GOP conference will hold its internal election for speaker Wednesday morning after a Tuesday evening “candidate forum,” according to a schedule distributed by Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.

On Monday night, the conference will also meet behind closed doors for a “member-only discussion.” Phones are to be checked at the door and staff aren’t allowed into the meeting, the invitation says.

The private discussions are being held after GOP conference members pushed back against the idea of a televised “joint interview” with the chief speaker candidates, sources familiar with the planned event said Friday. 

Fox News announced Friday morning that Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern, R-Okla., would appear in a televised event at 6 p.m. Monday. Scalise and Jordan are officially running for speaker, while Hern is considering a bid but has not announced his candidacy.

However, all three backed out of the event, which Fox News political anchor Bret Baier was set to host, just hours after it was announced.

“We need to make this decision as a conference, not on TV,” Hern wrote Friday on X, formerly Twitter. “The Republican conference needs a family discussion.” 

Scalise and Jordan discussed the matter and decided it wouldn’t be wise to participate, a source familiar with the talks said.

House Republicans want to emerge from this speakership fight as united as possible, one GOP aide said, and wanted to avoid a contentious televised debate. 

Republican lawmakers were “furious” about the prospect of the candidates airing it out on television rather than behind closed doors with other conference members, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Fox News’ morning press release announcing the speaker candidate forum had been taken down from the outlet’s website as of Friday afternoon.

Instead, the Monday night closed-door conference meeting will kick-start a week of jockeying among Republicans interested in the gavel. 

There were no immediate plans to go to the floor to formally elect a speaker, as required once Republicans have made their internal decision — an indication the “family discussion” could go on for some time.

Part of the discussion is that there’s a solid contingent of House Republicans that don’t want to go through a messy floor voting process like they did in January, when it took the former speaker, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., 15 rounds of voting to get elected.

Nearly 100 GOP conference members signed a letter Friday to Stefanik and Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., the speaker pro tempore, asking for a change to conference rules that would temporarily raise the vote threshold within the conference to elect a speaker. McCarthy, won a large margin in the internal conference election late last year, but his failure to secure 218 votes in the conference was what triggered the drawn-out floor process in January.

The letter to Stefanik and McHenry was led by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., a leader of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. Notable signatories include Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Bob Good, R-Va., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., who were among the Republicans voting to remove McCarthy as speaker this week.

It would require the support of two-thirds of the conference to change its internal rules.

McCarthy’s stunning ouster has paved the way for the leadership scramble. Both Scalise and Jordan are working to secure support across the conference and both have received some high-profile endorsements. 

Scalise has the backing of at least four of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee chairmen — Reps. Steve Womack of Arkansas, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee and Ken Calvert of California. 

Other members across the conference, including Reps. Tony Gonzales of Texas, Ashley Hinson of Iowa, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia and John James of Michigan are also backing Scalise.

Jordan has received strong support from the Ohio delegation, with fellow Ohioans Max Miller, Warren Davidson, Michael R. Turner, Troy Balderson and Mike Carey supporting him.    

Other early Jordan supporters include Rules Committee member Ralph Norman, R-S.C.; Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, R-Tenn.; Byron Donalds, R-Fla.; and Darrell Issa, R-Calif. 

Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., a prominent freshman member of the Freedom Caucus, announced her support for Jordan on Friday, as did Troy Nehls, R-Texas, after the Ohioan received the overnight backing of former President Donald Trump.

Laura Weiss contributed to this report.

Recent Stories

Spared angry protests at Morehouse, Biden pushes post-war Gaza plan

Capitol Lens | Duck dodgers

Election year politics roil the EV transition

Thompson’s animal welfare, whole milk priorities in farm bill

Schumer plans vote on border security bill that GOP blocked

Republicans look to reverse rule based on gun law they backed