During a recent interaction with the press, U.S. President Joe Biden had a terse reaction when questioned about the unsuccessful endeavors of Republican Congressman Jim Jordan to secure the position of House Speaker.
Jordan, an initial architect of the firmly conservative Freedom Caucus and the presiding officer of the Judiciary Committee, is recognized for his persistent opposition to the Biden administration and his key role in the GOP’s impeachment investigations. Despite his close ties with ex-President Donald Trump and receiving Trump’s personal endorsement, Jordan struggled to assemble sufficient backing among House Republicans.
This subject was broached with President Biden as he fielded questions from journalists on his return journey from Tel Aviv. When asked for his opinion on Jordan’s unsuccessful quest for the speakership, Biden dryly commented, “I ache for him,” igniting mirth among the assembled reporters, before he succinctly added, “No. Zero. None.” MSNBC circulated a clip of this concise interchange on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.
This comes at a time of frenetic activity within the Republican party, following a successful campaign by conservative extremists to depose former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over a temporary funding arrangement he arranged with Democrats, an effort to avert a looming government closure. This abrupt shift has plunged the House into turmoil amidst mounting international tension and the U.S.’s commitments to wartime allies like Israel and Ukraine.
Jordan, hailing from Ohio, faced defeat in securing enough backing for the speakership for the second time that Wednesday. Despite rallying 199 votes, he fell short with 22 members of his own party dissenting, a slight increase from the opposition he faced in the initial vote. The entire 212-member Democratic faction remained aligned in their support for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries during both voting sessions.
The selection of Jordan followed the startling removal of McCarthy, initiated by a rare motion from fellow Republican Matt Gaetz. Furthermore, the House Majority Leader, Steve Scalise, retracted his candidacy after a similar shortfall in party support.
Nonetheless, Jordan’s chances remain dubious, as he needs to secure 217 votes for the role of speaker but failed by an 18-vote margin in the second round. In a House finely balanced with 221 Republicans to 212 Democrats, Jordan’s margin for dissent is narrow, allowing for just five defectors from his party, given the Democrats’ unanimous opposition.
Undeterred by consecutive setbacks, Jordan disclosed plans for a third round of votes on his candidacy, slated for Thursday at noon. Maintaining an optimistic front, he assured CNN of his continued prospects for clinching the speakership.
Reporter: "Do you have a view of Jim Jordan’s current predicament being unable to secure the speakership?"
Biden: “I ache for him… *laughs* No. Zero. None.” pic.twitter.com/VccqV5hnDP
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 18, 2023