The race to succeed Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker began to take shape on Wednesday, with two prominent Republicans, Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, announcing their bids for the position.
This contest may see other candidates entering the fray, promising a potentially protracted and contentious battle within the Republican Party.
McCarthy’s removal from the speaker’s position on Tuesday marked a historic moment, as it was the first time the chamber ousted its leader, who holds a position second only to the vice president in the presidential line of succession.
Republicans have scheduled a vote for McCarthy’s successor on October 11, with a preceding meeting to listen to candidates.
This leadership struggle has diverted lawmakers’ attention away from pressing legislative matters, including extending government spending beyond its expiration date on November 18 and updating essential programs such as farm subsidies and nutrition assistance.
Steve Scalise, aged 57, who has been undergoing cancer treatment, has long been considered McCarthy’s natural successor.
He has been actively seeking support among Republicans and is perceived as more conservative than McCarthy.
Scalise survived a near-fatal shooting in 2017 when a man targeted him and other Republican lawmakers during a baseball practice.
Jim Jordan, aged 59, a former college wrestler known for his investigations of the Biden administration and strong support for former President Donald Trump, has also thrown his hat into the ring.
Jordan, who leads the Judiciary Committee, is involved in an impeachment investigation into President Biden and has faced legal challenges related to Trump.
However, both Scalise and Jordan have their critics within the party.
Some view Jordan as too far to the right, while Scalise faces questions about his physical fitness for the role. Representative Kevin Hern, who leads a conservative policy group, is also considering a bid.
The chaos surrounding McCarthy’s removal and the uncertainty surrounding his successor have contributed to concerns on Wall Street about U.S. political governance, adding to worries about interest rates and contributing to a sustained sell-off in government bonds.
The speakership position has been a challenging role for Republicans in recent years, with Paul Ryan and John Boehner, the previous Republican speakers, encountering difficulties in their respective tenures.
Some Republicans are calling for changes to the chamber’s rules to make it harder to remove a speaker, as the current structure is deemed dysfunctional.
The election for the next House Speaker will be significant, and the outcome will have far-reaching consequences for the party’s direction and its ability to navigate the complex political landscape in the United States.