House Republicans to Decide on a Speaker—Probably

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise talks to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan during a Republican-led forum on the origins of the COVID-19 virus at the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Happy Wednesday. Andrew’s heading home to St. Louis today to attend his sister’s wedding later this week—if House Republicans wouldn’t mind staying deadlocked in the speaker fight until he can make it back, that’d be great.

Up to Speed

  • President Joe Biden offered another fiery address in support of Israel on Tuesday after that country began its assault on Gaza with the stated aim of eradicating the terrorist group Hamas. Biden said he’d told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “if the United States experienced what Israel is experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive, and overwhelming” and that the U.S. would continue to support “the people of Israel who are suffering unspeakable losses and opposing the hatred and violence of terrorism.”
  • House Republicans will gather this morning to nominate a candidate for speaker of the House, one week after former Rep. Kevin McCarthy lost the gavel in a vote on the House floor initiated by Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican. The two declared candidates in the contest are Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio; McCarthy himself has asked not to be renominated, despite a renewed push in the conference amid the crisis in the Middle East.
  • During a candidate forum on Tuesday afternoon, Scalise and Jordan were both asked whether Donald Trump had, as he continues to falsely claim, truly won the 2020 election. According to reporting from Politico’s Olivia Beavers, the candidates—who both voted not to certify the 2020 election in the wake of the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021—equivocated on the question, with one House Republican saying they “tried to have it both ways.”
  • Former newscaster Kari Lake, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and inveterate election denier who ran unsuccessfully for governor in Arizona last year, announced Tuesday that she will run for U.S. Senate against former Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Trump pre-taped a Lake endorsement for her launch event, and Sen. Steve Daines, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called her a “talented campaigner with an impressive ability to fire up the grassroots” in a Tuesday statement. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, jumped into the closely watched race earlier this year.
  • GOP Rep. George Santos’ legal troubles keep getting worse: Federal prosecutors on Tuesday filed a superseding indictment in Santos’ campaign-fraud case, with 10 additional charges ranging from stealing donors’ identities and running up their credit cards to embezzling campaign funds.

Decision Day for McCarthy’s Successor

This morning, House Republicans will meet privately to vote on Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s successor as speaker of the House. Members of the conference say their goal is to move on from their internal disagreements and find unity, but odds are slim either objective will be achieved anytime soon.

As GOP lawmakers left a lengthy candidate forum Tuesday night, neither Majority Leader Steve Scalise nor House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan—the two main candidates in the race—seemed to have consolidated a clear majority of support. And while some McCarthy allies argued this week that the unexpected crisis in Israel called for the conference to reunite behind him to get the House back up and running as quickly as possible, McCarthy himself largely shut the door on that prospect Tuesday, asking his colleagues not to renominate him before dipping out of the candidate forum early.

Today’s task will be complicated by an effort from Rep. Chip Roy to stave off another humiliating public spectacle for the conference. Typically, whichever candidate receives majority support from Republicans would be put forth to the full House as the party’s pick for speaker. But the Texas Republican has proposed a temporary rule change under which a majority-winning candidate must also clear a second, higher hurdle before becoming the Republican nominee: A “validation vote” requiring 217 Republicans to commit to supporting the candidate on the floor of the House.

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