Yet Another Republican Flames Out as Speaker Nominee

Yet Another Republican Flames Out as Speaker Nominee

Emmer's nomination lasted just hours.
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Good Tuesday evening. Three was most certainly NOT the magic number in the Republican quest to find a new House speaker. Three weeks after ousting former speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans today picked Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the third-ranking member of their leadership, as their third nominee for the job.

Unfortunately for Emmer, and perhaps for anyone else wanting to see an end to the current chaos, the real magic number remains 217 — the votes needed to win on the House floor — and it quickly became clear that Emmer could not reach that threshold. He dropped out of the race within hours of winning the nomination. Here’s an update.

Emmer Flames Out After Just Hours as GOP’s Latest Speaker Nominee

House Republicans on Tuesday nominated Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota to be the next speaker, but his candidacy quickly ran into trouble as dozens of right-wingers refused to back him, forcing him to step down just hours after being nominated.

Republicans are now trying to choose a fourth nominee. As of Tuesday evening, there are five candidates vying for the nomination: Byron Donalds of Florida, Chuck Fleischmann of Tenneseee, Mark Green of Tennessee, Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Roger Williams of Texas.

On Tuesday morning, Emmer won support from a majority of the House Republican conference in the last of five rounds of secret ballots, beating Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana 117 to 97. Seven other Republicans who had declared their candidacy dropped out of the process at various points before the final vote.

Emmer was the third nominee for speaker since a small group of far-right Republicans triggered a vote to remove Kevin McCarthy from the leadership position three weeks ago. The first nominee, Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, withdrew after he was unable to clear the hurdle of 217 votes within the Republican conference, the number needed to win a simple majority in the House. The second nominee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, was removed from his position as speaker-designee following three failed votes on the House floor.

The House has been essentially leaderless since McCarthy was removed from the speakership, with Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina serving as an acting speaker with limited powers.

Tough road to travel: Although he gained enough support to win the nomination, Emmer couldn’t convince enough Republicans to back him to win a vote on the floor of the House. Emmer could afford to lose just four Republican votes, and at least 26 GOP lawmakers said they would not vote for him. “A gigantic pool of nos,” as Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman put it.

One major problem for Emmer was that he voted to certify the 2020 election — an unforgivable sin among supporters of former president Donald Trump, who is still the most popular figure in the Republican Party and who continues to insist without evidence that the last presidential election was “rigged,” unfairly denying him reelection.

Emmer also supported the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022, which requires the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial civil marriages, and he voted in favor of McCarthy’s budget deal with Democrats earlier this year, both of which are problematic for many of the ultraconservatives.

Emmer reportedly reached out to Trump for support in the speaker race, but Trump made it clear that he wants someone else in the position. “I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors. RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them,” Trump said on social media Tuesday. “He fought me all the way, and actually spent more time defending Ilhan Omar, than he did me,” Trump continued. “Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!”

A last-ditch effort: Emmer met with Republican holdouts Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to change some minds and increase his base of support. But opposition to Emmer among lawmakers on the right was firm. “I’m a conservative. I came to Washington to fight for conservative values,” Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana told CNN’s Manu Raju. “I can't go along with putting one of the most moderate members of the entire Republican conference in the speaker's chair.”

The bottom line: Emmer’s shockingly rapid fall as speaker nominee raises questions about who, if anyone, can win the support of 217 Republicans in the House. Expect more chaos ahead as Republicans attempt to find a speaker they can actually support. “It’s a huge setback,” GOP Rep. Lance Gooden told CNN, “but we’ve become so accustomed to setbacks that one setback doesn’t seem worse than another.”

GOP Senators Demand Changes to Biden’s $106 Billion Emergency Package

The $106 billion package of emergency funding requested by President Joe Biden for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and border security is reportedly running into trouble with Senate Republicans.

The administration’s request includes about $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israeli security assistance, $9 billion for humanitarian aid in both Israel and Gaza, another $14 billion for the border and about $2 billion for Indo-Pacific security needs. The aid to Israel has bipartisan support, but other elements of the package — most notably the Ukraine funding — are more divisive.

“The package that the White House sent over really is dead,” GOP Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said, per Politico. "The appropriators in the Senate can begin by basically starting over.”

Republicans are divided over the idea of linking aid to Israel and Ukraine, and many in the party reportedly also want changes to border policy or question the total cost of the proposed package. Biden and Democrats will need at least nine Republicans to get the funding through the Senate.

The bottom line: The Senate will likely reshape Biden’s plan and the House … well, who knows.

Number of the Day: 3.6%

Just 12 million people, or roughly 3.6% of the U.S. population, have gotten a Covid shot in the five weeks since the new vaccination became available, Politico says. Lags in the reporting may mean that the actual uptake is a bit higher, but the number remains far short of the 128 million people who have already had their annual flu vaccine.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Mandy Cohen said in an interview with Politico that the Covid vaccination numbers are the result of a new process now that insurers are covering the shots rather than the federal government. “This is the first time the private sector is doing this work. I think they’ve learned some lessons about distribution and demand,” she said, adding that she still thinks the country is “on track” to equal or exceed the 17% uptake for last year’s boosters.

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