House Republicans are set to meet behind closed doors Wednesday to select their nominee for speaker after the historiclast week.
McCarthy’s removal set up a head-to-head battle between Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan for the gavel. The House has been at a standstill since the unprecedented vote that left the speaker post vacant, though thehave lent urgency to filling the role.
The House Republican conference met privately Tuesday night for a long candidate forum and took questions from rank-and-file members. Rep. Mike Garcia, of California, estimated that around 30-40 Republicans asked questions of the two. Neither Jordan nor Scalise appeared to have won over a majority.
On Tuesday night after the meeting, Garcia called both “very solid candidates” but said, “I don’t know if there’s gonna be a speaker tomorrow morning … we’ll see where this goes.”
Scalise said Tuesday night that he was “confident” that a speaker would be chosen Wednesday.
The House speaker, who is second in line for the presidency, must be elected with a majority of the full House, which currently means 217 votes, since there are two vacancies.
McCarthy, who earlier this week indicated that he was open to being restored to the speakership, said he told Republicans not to renominate him Tuesday night.
The conference is considering changing the rules to ensure that a single candidate has 217 before the full House votes, in order to avoid the spectacle of the multiple rounds of voting McCarthy endured in his bid for speaker in January.
No Democrat is expected to vote to support a Republican speaker. Given Republicans’ slim majority and divided conference, which still includes the eight Republicans who joined all the Democrats in voting to remove McCarthy, some have proposed another rule change to make it more difficult to remove a speaker.
If there is a vote on Wednesday, it will be a secret ballot. House Republicans must decide on a rule first.
In addition to the conference meeting, approximately 40 members of the conference had their own separate, standalone meetings with Scalise and Jordan on Tuesday. Scalise is running as the person who can unify the party, while Jordan has former President Donald Trump’s backing.
Rep. Nick LaLota of New York told CBS News that it is his “first criteria” that the “next speaker has an appreciation for running the government much like Kevin McCarthy.”