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The Texas Tribune
The Texas Tribune
Grace Yarrow

Three Texas Republicans help block Jim Jordan from becoming U.S. House speaker in first vote

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan arrives for a House Republican caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio arrives for a House Republican caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Julia Nikhinson for The Texas Tribune)

WASHINGTON — Three Texas Republicans joined a sliver of the GOP House delegation to block Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker on Tuesday, forcing the leaderless body to hold another vote amid the intraparty gridlock.

Rep. Jake Ellzey, of Waxahachie, was the first of the Texans and the fifth Republican to cast a vote against Jordan — securing his demise in the first round. Reps. Tony Gonzales of San Antonio and Kay Granger of Fort Worth both voted for Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the party’s original nominee who dropped out Thursday night after it became clear he did not have enough votes to win the gavel.

In total, 20 Republicans voted for candidates other than Jordan. All 22 of the other Texas Republicans voted for Jordan and all 13 Texas Democrats voted for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Jordan was unable to reach the requisite 217 votes to become speaker, even after days of negotiating with Republican holdouts since his nomination during a Friday conference. A number of Texas Republicans — including those who originally supported Scalise — rallied around Jordan. Texas representatives make up the largest Republican voting bloc of any state in the House and became a target for candidates vying for the speakership.

Eight far-right Republicans, led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, and all Democrats voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Oct. 3, plunging the chamber into chaos as Republicans scrambled to find consensus over a leader. McCarthy, too, was initially blocked in his bid for speakership in January, with 19 Republicans voting against the former speaker in the first round. He eventually won the gavel after a historic 15 votes. McCarthy, who voted for Jordan, received six votes Tuesday.

All three Texans who voted against Jordan serve on the House Committee on Appropriations, which handles defense spending and aid for Ukraine. Granger, who chairs that committee, had not expressed support for any speaker candidate until Tuesday. Jordan has voted against support for Ukraine.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, also serves on that committee and said Jordan expressed openness to passing Ukraine aid.

“If we don't have a speaker in the chair, we don't have the ability to govern,” McCaul said. “This spectacle has created a weaker United States. It’s projecting weakness.”

In a conversation with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, said "a couple more" Republicans would be supporting Jordan in a second round of votes. He also called out those who voted against Jordan, many of whom, he said, are "friends."

"The consistency among that group is very clear: war and money. It’s about the power of appropriators," Roy said.

Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, commended the three Republican Texans who voted against Jordan, especially Granger, who Crockett said may have risked her position on the appropriations committee.

"Honestly, she didn't care. I just hope that we see more courage," Crockett said. "I can acknowledge that what Kay Granger did took some sort of moral compass and I can recognize and appreciate and applaud her for that while still disagreeing on a lot of things."

Democrats have denounced a potential Jordan speakership, hoping moderate Republicans would work across the aisle to elect Jeffries. Leaders pointed out Jordan’s weak legislative track record, as he hasn’t passed a bill signed into law in his 16 years as a representative.

“They have nominated an insurrectionist and the architect of a prior government shutdown,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, said on Friday. “This is a man who literally and figuratively has tried to burn this place down. I am stunned and profoundly disappointed.”

The House was in recess as of Tuesday afternoon. It’s not immediately clear when the next vote would take place. Granger urged Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., to hold another vote.

"The House needs to get back to work now," Granger posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, without saying who she would vote for.

Jordan supporter and Texas Rep. Monica De La Cruz of Edinburg also expressed frustration in an X post: "Here we go… AGAIN…"

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