Scalise Drops Out of Speaker Race – Now What?

Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Majority Leader, dropped out of the race for Speaker on Thursday, the day after House Republicans made him their nominee. What happens now?


Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Majority Leader, dropped out of the race for Speaker on Thursday, the day after House Republicans made him their nominee. What happens now?

  • Scalise withdrew from the race after it became clear he could not secure the 217 votes he needs to be elected Speaker on the House floor.
  • Even though he won the internal conference vote by a 113-99 margin over House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), several Jordan supporters refused to accept the will of the majority of their conference and said they would vote for their candidate on the House floor.
  • Other House Republicans cited personal slights or petty grievances as reasons or pretexts to vote against Scalise, while some called for an entire leadership changeover after McCarthy’s ouster.
  • Jordan is now the only announced candidate for speaker, but as this process as shown, being the leading candidate to become speaker is no guarantee of success in this Republican Conference.
  • While Jordan may now be the frontrunner to win the GOP nomination, it’s hard to see how he does not face the same challenges that Scalise did in securing 217 votes. Several members have said they would not back Jordan on the floor.
  • On Friday, Republicans once again rejected a proposal that would force the GOP nominee for speaker to secure 217 votes in-conference before they could be nominated on the floor.
  • While the deadlock persists, some Republicans are looking for alternatives. Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and other moderate Republicans are considering a resolution to elevate the authority of Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) for a period of 90 days so that legislation can be advanced through the house.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times observed that should Jordan become speaker, “he would be second in line to the presidency, capping a remarkable rise for a rabble-rousing Republican popular with the party’s far-right base, whose combative style and distaste for compromise has tormented past G.O.P. speakers.”
  • CNN wrote “there’s no end in sight” to the GOP’s interminable leadership mess. The House remains “effectively frozen” during a time of a major international crisis and CNN noted that the government is on-schedule to shut down in November, adding even more urgency to Republicans’ internal food fight.
  • The Washington Post pointed out that House Republicans have now wasted two full weeks of legislative floor time with their circular-firing-squad leadership squabbles. As the Post put it, “Electing a leader is supposed to be one of the easiest things a party does before it even starts the hard slog of governing. By cycling through leaders, Republicans are ignoring their bigger problem: They can’t govern themselves right now, let alone the country.”



  • Fox News offered several candidates who could step up should Jordan suffer the same fate as Scalise. McHenry and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) have both been floated but neither has publicly commented on whether they will join the speaker race.
  • Many moderate Republicans remain deeply opposed to rewarding “bad behavior” by elevating Jordan, the preferred choice of the Republican defectors who kicked off the leadership crisis. According to the Wall Street Journal, swing-district Republicans see Jordan “as benefiting from guerrilla tactics to mount a takeover of Republican leadership.”
  • National Review debunked a misleading left-wing talking point that one House Republican used to justify her opposition to Scalise. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said she wouldn’t support Scalise because “attended a white supremacist conference and compared himself to David Duke.” Scalise never attended a white supremacist conference and several African-American Louisiana Democrats denounced Mace’s attack as false.


Return to Freespoke

© Dominic Moore, 2023