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Jordan’s speaker bid gains steam with key endorsements

House Armed Services chairman, others had been important holdouts

Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., arrives at the Capitol for a House Republican Conference meeting on the nomination for speaker on Oct. 12.
Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., arrives at the Capitol for a House Republican Conference meeting on the nomination for speaker on Oct. 12. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The plaudits are starting to roll in from some unlikely quarters for House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan as the Ohio Republican mounts what has been an uphill climb to be elected speaker.

Jordan won over two important votes from defense hawks who control the Pentagon’s purse strings — House Armed Services Chairman Mike D. Rogers, and Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Rogers, R-Ala., who last week said he would not support Jordan, wrote on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, that he and Jordan had “two cordial, thoughtful, and productive conversations over the past two days.”

Rogers said that he and Jordan, R-Ohio, agreed on the need for Congress to pass a “strong” defense authorization bill, appropriations to “fund our government’s vital functions” and a new multiyear farm bill.

“Since I was first elected to the House, I have always been a team player and supported what the majority of the Republican Conference agrees to,” Rogers wrote on X. “Together, our Republican majority will be stronger to fight Joe Biden’s reckless agenda for America.”.

Calvert, who wrote on X Monday that “keeping America safe is my top priority in Congress,” said he’s now on board.

“After having a conversation with Jim Jordan about how we must get the House back on a path to achieve our national security and appropriations goals, I will be supporting him for Speaker on the floor,” Calvert wrote. “Let’s get to work.”

While Calvert had not weighed in on Jordan’s bid, he was an early supporter of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s bid for the gavel. Calvert’s backing is a positive sign for Jordan among a group of Republicans that is key for him to reach the 217 votes needed to be elected if all members are present and voting

Defense hawks have expressed concerns about Jordan’s spending plans, according to sources familiar with their thinking. Jordan has vowed to “leverage” the 1 percent across-the-board cut that would hit in May if all 12 full-year appropriations bills aren’t enacted by then under the debt limit suspension law.

This tactic has startled supporters of defense spending, who worry that Jordan could allow the 1 percent defense cut to take effect in order to also cut domestic and foreign aid spending. 

Jordan has also been critical of extra aid to Ukraine, which remains under attack by Russia, and by extension additional funds to replenish U.S. weapons stockpiles that could bolster the domestic defense industrial base.

‘Too much is at stake’

Backing for Jordan is starting to come in from others who’ve been his most vocal opponents. Last week, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., told Politico that she would “absolutely not” vote for Jordan, citing his “disgraceful, ungracious” speech in conference after he lost the initial internal ballot to Scalise.

On Monday, Wagner posted on X that she’s changed her mind after speaking with Jordan earlier in the day. She wrote that the prospect of a deal with Democrats to elect a speaker was a motivating factor.

“Too much is at stake to hand control of the House over to radical liberal Democrats, which is why we must elect a conservative as the next Speaker,” Wagner wrote.

Wagner said Jordan has “allayed my concerns about keeping the government open with conservative funding, the need for strong border security, our need for consistent international support in times of war and unrest.”

Jordan followed up the endorsement announcements with a “Dear Colleague” letter to all House Republicans.

Jordan wrote that he’s heard their concerns and is ready to include the entire conference on key policy decisions— including on avoiding a government shutdown when current funding runs out Nov. 17.

“Our goal will be to empower our committees and committee chairs to take the lead on the House’s legislative work through regular order. This will bring us together to pass responsible legislation to fund our government and support our military,” Jordan wrote.

And he said he’s ready to help members get reelected, addressing critics who’ve said he hasn’t done enough to raise money and stump for lawmakers in their districts.

“I will tirelessly work to defend and expand our majority and help every Republican member back at home,” Jordan wrote.

Tuesday vote

House Republicans are set to meet again on Monday at 6:30 p.m., with a floor vote for speaker tentatively scheduled for noon Tuesday. 

The new support expressed Monday could be a sign that Jordan is starting to close the gap towards the 217 votes on the floor needed to be elected speaker, if all members are present and voting.

However, 55 Republicans said in a secret ballot Friday that they would not vote for Jordan on the floor, even after he became the speaker-designate in a 124-81 vote over Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., a last-minute entry into the race. 

Many Scalise backers are frustrated that Jordan’s supporters tanked Scalise’s bid for speaker, after Scalise earned the nod in a 113-99 vote over Jordan last week. Scalise later dropped out in the face of some Republicans saying they would not support him on the floor. 

Some have alleged Jordan and his allies have engaged in hardball tactics to try to secure the votes.

1819 News, an Alabama-based outlet, reported that several members of the Alabama Republican Party’s executive committee have threatened to try to kick Rogers off the 2024 ballot.

Then there are those who never got over the stunning ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., nearly two weeks ago that started the whole chaotic process.

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., told CNN on Monday that Republicans may need to reach across the aisle to Democrats to elect a bipartisan speaker.

One lawmaker who’s consistently been in the “OK” camp — “Only Kevin” — said on Fox News Monday that the speaker pro tempore role, currently filled by Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., should be imbued with expanded powers.

“Look, one way or the other, we’re going to have to do something about the speaker pro tem because in the future, what if we have a speaker that’s incapacitated, injured, etcetera?” Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., said. “The House business just can’t stop, and so this is a big hole that we have to fill and we have to fill it now.”

Laura Weiss, David Lerman and Mary Ellen McIntire contributed to this report.

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