US Congress 'starting over' after Jim Jordan's speakership bid fails

There is no clear solution in the leadership crisis as Washington hurdles towards another government shutdown

Jim Jordan speaks to reporters after House Republicans voted him out of contention to be the next Speaker of the House. EPA
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The chaos in the US Congress shows no sign of abating after Republicans on Friday dropped hardline conservative Jim Jordan as their nominee for House speaker.

The decision was made behind closed doors after Mr Jordan failed for a third time to get enough votes to claim the speaker's gavel.

Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who clinched the Republican nomination just a week ago before also losing his bid, said his party is going to “come back and start over” on Monday.

This degree of uncertainty on Congressional leadership in the House is unprecedented.

Having no speaker means the House cannot debate legislation even as urgent items stack up, such as funding for Ukraine and Israel.

And Washington is hurtling towards another government shutdown in less than a month unless Congress can pass a funding bill.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Jordan attempted to convey confidence, saying the need for the House to respond to the Israel-Gaza war “made the case” for his confirmation.

“We certainly need to help Israel … But again, we can't do that. The House isn't open. All the more reason why we need to get the House open as soon as possible,” he told reporters.

After failing to endorse Mr Jordan on Friday, Republicans have no realistic or workable plan to unite the party's fractured majority around a single candidate for speaker.

The back and forth began with Republicans ousting their own speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this month. The prolonged leadership battle has outlined divisions within the conservative party, who control the chamber by a narrow 221-212 margin.

The removal of Mr McCarthy was an unprecedented move and he had served less than one year in the job, managing challenges from hardline Republicans amid a narrow party majority control of the chamber after last year's midterm elections.

Updated: October 20, 2023, 7:59 PM