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House Speaker battle continues, Steve Scalise meets with dissenters

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House Republicans were less clear Thursday afternoon during a closed-door meeting on who will be the next speaker, as Majority Leader Steve Scalise doesn’t appear to have a win for him at the moment. The votes needed for the top seat – which came just one day after his victory – put the party’s nomination in a closed vote at the Capitol.

Scalise spoke at a closed-door meeting Thursday. After the meeting, he told reporters he would talk to holdout opponents in an effort to reverse their votes.

“I think we’re looking at the issues and issues that lawmakers really care about. Members want the House to function again, but they want to make this institution functional again. Congress is broken. We need to fix it,” Scalise told Us Rachel Scott, senior congressional correspondent, Broadcast News. “We need to continue to make reforms to restart the process and address the issues facing hard-working families.”

At least 13 Republicans do not plan to support Scalise, according to an ABC News tally, the latest sign that Republicans remain deeply divided and divided after Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker. Split. Scalise needs 217 votes in the House to be elected speaker. All Democrats will support New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

The House adjourned Wednesday night without a scheduled House vote to elect a new speaker, complicating Scalise’s path to office. House Republicans narrowly elected Scalise on Wednesday, ousting Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, the firebrand chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise speaks to reporters as he leaves a House Republican Caucus meeting at the Capitol on October 12, 2023.

Chip Somodevilla/

McCarthy said that while he supports Scalise, the Louisiana congressman still has a long way to go to win the speakership.

“This is not an easy thing and you have to listen to people … but time is of the essence. There’s not much left,” McCarthy told Scott.

Asked if it was possible for Scalise to get the votes needed for speaker, McCarthy said “possibly.”

“…But it’s a big mountain. He told a lot of people he was going to get 150 votes, but he wasn’t there,” McCarthy said.

The latest Republican holdouts come from all parties — from deep red rural to more moderate suburbs — and have a range of explanations for why they don’t support Scalise.

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she would not support Scalise because he has cancer. The Louisiana congressman is currently undergoing aggressive treatment for blood cancer.

“We need a speaker who is fully committed to defeating the communist Democrats and saving America,” Greene wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Like Greene, Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., still planned to vote for Jordan on the floor, but said she couldn’t after learning that Scalise attended a 2002 event associated with a white supremacist group. Callis.

“Especially given what’s going on in Israel right now, I can’t support anyone who is associated with anyone who is divisive, whether it’s race or religion,” Mays told reporters.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise speaks to reporters as he leaves a House Republican Caucus meeting at the Capitol on October 12, 2023.

Win McNamee/

In 2015, Scalise was criticized for attending and speaking at a symposium organized by an alleged white supremacist group in 2002. A spokesperson for Scalise told ABC News at the time that he did not recall attending the event, where he reportedly gave a traditional speech. campaign speech, whose affiliation he may not have known. A local blogger has said that Scalise describes himself as “David Duke without the baggage,” but it’s unclear if Scalise has ever described himself that way publicly.

Others said the process was rushed and left them hesitant.

“What happened in the last 24 hours is not what I think we should be doing,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who accused Scalise of trying to rush onto the stage after winning the Republican speaker’s vote.

Speaker Pro Tem Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said Wednesday that this is an “unprecedented moment.”

“This is the fastest speaker election in modern history,” he said.

While Scalise won over some of McCarthy’s critics, such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., he may have alienated some of McCarthy’s loyal allies, such as Rep. Carlos Carlos, R-Fla. · Carlos Gimenez and Lloyd Smucker. Payne.

“He’s got to give us a message or understanding of how he’s going to bridge that divide and make sure that he brings Congress together and doesn’t divide the Republican conference further,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio. .

Florida Republican Anna Paulina Luna had previously endorsed Scalise for speaker, but posted on X that she had changed her mind.

She wrote: “There is no consensus on a speaker candidate. We need to stay in Washington until this is resolved. I will no longer be voting for Scalise. I don’t even think we will be able to get on the floor.”

Jordan, who was the first to officially launch his bid for speaker, said he planned to vote for Scalise at the conference and encouraged his colleagues to do the same.

Rep. Jim Jordan speaks with reporters at the Capitol on October 11, 2023 in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

“We need to come together and support Steve,” Jordan said Thursday afternoon.

Some lawmakers who have expressed support for Scalise doubt he can reach the 217 threshold to secure the speakership.

“You have two great candidates. I don’t think either of them can make it to 217. I just can’t,” Rep. Troy Neers, R-Texas, said Thursday. “How do we do that? I would love to see us find a way to do that. I don’t think we will.”

Niels, who urged former President Donald Trump to serve as speaker, said if the process drags on into the weekend, it might be time to “try to nominate someone else.”

Republicans are under pressure to elect a new speaker so the House can deliver aid to Israel after Hamas-led attacks killed at least 1,200 people, including at least 27 Americans. The new speaker will also have more than a month to push through funding legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown that would have ripple effects for millions of employees and social service recipients.

It is unclear when the speakership vote will be decided.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said the situation became more “dangerous” as each day passed without a speaker.

“I just made the meeting aware that we live in a dangerous world. The world is on fire. Our adversaries are watching what we do. Frankly, they like it…it gets more dangerous every day. ,” McCall said. “One of the biggest threats I see is in that room because we can’t unify as a conference and put speakers together.”

Jeffries, meanwhile, called on Republicans to “get their act together.”

“House Republicans need to end the Republican civil war now. What’s the problem? They’ve had an election. They’ve designated someone to speak,” he told Scott Thursday afternoon.

“Why is it so complicated? Especially during such a difficult time for the American people, the people of Israel, the people of Ukraine and the free world,” he added.

ABC News’ Jay O’Brien, John Parkinson, Lali Ibusa, Katherine Folds and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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