House GOP Turmoil Deepens Over Speaker Selection

The ongoing struggle within the House Republican Party has reached a new crescendo.

by Faruk Imamovic
House GOP Turmoil Deepens Over Speaker Selection
© Getty Images News/Chip Somodevilla

The ongoing struggle within the House Republican Party has reached a new crescendo. As they bicker over their choice for the next Speaker, there's an unsettling irony that can't be ignored: at a time when global crises are escalating, the spectacle of internal strife paints an unfavorable picture of a divided US government.

A Rocky Path for Steve Scalise

On Wednesday, GOP lawmakers put their weight behind Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican and the current majority leader, as their preferred candidate for the Speaker's chair—a position that is second only to the presidency in the line of succession.

Yet, as day turned to night, it was evident that Scalise's path to the gavel wasn't as clear as many had hoped. CNN's Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona reported that while the GOP had plans to conduct a full-chamber vote on the speakership by Thursday, senior Republicans were already strategizing for an alternative.

The reason? Scalise's support seemed fragile. "Steve is nowhere near 217,” a Republican member pointed out, indicating the count Scalise would need to clinch the role. The predicament becomes even more complex as doubts rise about Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, who was the next in line after Scalise in Wednesday’s private election.

The uncertainty around these frontrunners suggests a potential opportunity for a consensus candidate to step into the limelight.

A Backdrop of Division

The current chaos serves as a continuation of the tumult that saw former Speaker Kevin McCarthy dethroned just last week.

In a rare show of bipartisan consensus, eight Republicans sided with Democrats to oust McCarthy. On paper, Scalise stands at the threshold of becoming the preeminent Republican voice in Washington. The real picture, however, isn't as rosy.

Even if Scalise manages to muster the required support, there are genuine concerns about the longevity and strength of his leadership. Any concessions he makes to the party's extreme factions to secure the gavel might compromise his authority even before his tenure as Speaker truly begins.