Scalise, Jordan Emphasize Republican Unity in Speaker’s Race

Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan. (Photo of Scalise by John Lamparski/Getty Images. Photo of Jordan by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images.)

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Up to Speed

  • As he struggles to regain momentum in the polls, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has begun laying into frontrunner Donald Trump in his most direct terms yet. “I don’t think anybody voted for Biden,” he said at a Thursday event in Tampa, Florida. “They were voting against Trump! That was why they did it. … You could have John Kennedy walk through the door right now and he wouldn’t energize Democrats as much as Donald Trump does.”
  • The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced it would allow new border wall construction in a “high illegal entry” area of Starr County, Texas, waiving a number of federal laws regulating new construction to do so expeditiously. “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the notice.
  • The notice came as a surprise thanks to the Biden administration’s previous longtime dismissal of the importance of a physical border at the barrier. On Thursday, President Joe Biden said again that he thinks walls don’t work, but insisted that his hands were tied: Congress had appropriated the money for the construction in 2019. In a statement of his own, Mayorkas wrote that “the language in the Federal Register notice is being taken out of context” and that it “does not signify any change in policy whatsoever.”
  • Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty this week to three federal gun charges stemming from false statements he made while filling out an application to buy a gun in late 2018. On the application, Biden testified he was not a drug user; in fact, as he has publicly acknowledged, he was addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol at the time.

Speaker Race Shaping Up as Scalise vs. Jordan

The ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker brought the work of the House of Representatives screeching to a halt, and Republicans are wasting no time looking for a new one. Ahead of a conference candidate forum scheduled for Monday, two frontrunners for the job have emerged: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio.

As the highest-ranking House Republican since McCarthy’s ouster, Scalise makes for an obvious potential replacement. He officially threw his hat in the ring Wednesday with a public letter to his colleagues spotlighting his “proven track record of bringing together the diverse array of viewpoints within our Conference to build consensus where others thought it impossible.”

Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and ferocious ally of former President Donald Trump, announced his own intentions with a Wednesday letter of his own: “We can focus on the changes that improve the country and unite us in offering real solutions. But no matter what we do, we must do it together as a conference.”

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