BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The nation is one step closer to having a new Speaker of the House.
In the continuing battle for the gavel, House Republicans have named their nominee for the next speaker: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the second highest-ranking House Republican.
On Wednesday, the GOP conference voted behind closed doors to make Steve Scalise speaker elect. He won by a small majority of votes: 113 to 99.
Scalise and Ohio congressman Jim Jordan – who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump – were the two declared candidates.
If formally elected, Scalise takes over the post of Bakersfield congressman Kevin McCarthy, ousted from the speakership just last week.
Scalise is now running against House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the Democrats’ nominee.
Despite the nomination, it seems House Republicans can’t get a majority to unify behind one candidate. Neither Jordan nor Scalise have the 217 GOP floor votes needed to win the speakership.
58-year-old New Orleans native Scalise has served in the House since 2008. He was shot in the hip in a 2017 mass shooting that targeted the GOP congress, and is currently battling blood cancer.
The nomination also means McCarthy is officially out of the race.
Over the past few days, there have been allies wanting to vote McCarthy back into the speakership, like Representative Carlos Jimenez of Florida, who said he’ll continue to vote for Kevin McCarthy until the congressman calls and says otherwise.
McCarthy himself never denied the prospect of putting his hat in the ring.
“It’s really really important that this Congress get back to work, we select a speaker, go to the House floor,” Scalise said to reporters following his nomination.
Scalise also said he’ll implement support for Israel as soon as he’s elected, via a bipartisan bill already in the works, and he’ll talk to President Biden about the southern border.
Scalise emphasized the House must show it is again open, doing the people’s business.
The vacancy in House leadership comes amid many current events needing quick House action, like a potential Nov. 17 government shutdown, as well as the war in Israel. Without a speaker, the House cannot vote on legislation.
Per NBC News, fellow candidate Jordan plans to vote for Scalise on the floor. Jordan told reporters he wants to unify the GOP conference.
“I’ll support anyone who can get 217 votes,” Jordan said as he walked through the halls of Congress.
NBC News has reported that House Republicans are working to avoid a vote as extensive as the 15 rounds that boosted McCarthy into his speakership back in January.
But the rule often blamed for McCarthy’s ouster – the one allowing for a single member to introduce a motion to vacate – remains in place.
Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, the congressman who introduced the motion to oust McCarthy, is one of the Republicans who said he’d vote for Scalise. Gaetz also said Scalise would be better than McCarthy in all ways.
The House adjourned at 3:49 p.m. PST on Wednesday, so no votes on the speakership were made on the House floor.
17 News will bring you updates as soon as a vote happens.