Jim Jordan lost a floor vote to become House Speaker on Tuesday. He lost by an even wider margin on Wednesday. He decided against a third vote on Thursday — which many predicted would have gone even worse for the Ohio Republican — instead opting to back a resolution to appoint Rep. Patrick McHenry as a temporary Speaker until the caucus could rally around a permanent leader.
It didn’t go so well.
Tempers reportedly flared behind closed doors, with Republicans directing their ire at a familiar target: Matt Gaetz, whose successful push to oust Kevin McCarthy as Speaker has stalled Congress for nearly three weeks. Juliegrace Brufke of Axios reported that McCarthy screamed at Gaetz to sit down when Gaetz moved to the microphone while the party was deliberating, and that Rep. Mike Bost “almost lunged” at the Florida congressman. Melanie Zanona of CNN also reported that Bost “got all emotional,” “was cussing at him,” and telling Gaetz “it’s all his fault,” citing a member in the room. Zonona added that members were also yelling at Jordan for supporting the push to appoint McHenry as a temporary Speaker, and that the situation also got heated over the harassment members who opposed Jordan have been subjected to.
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said on Wednesday that she received a “credible death threat” and a “barrage” of threatening calls after voting against Jordan earlier in the day. The wife of Rep. Don Bacon has also said she got a series of text messages threatening her husband’s career unless he fell in line and backed Jordan.
Gaetz seemed amused by the commotion while speaking to reporters later on Thursday. “I’m not for everyone, as it turns out,” Gaetz said when asked about the tension, adding that electing a “Speaker light is a bad idea, just like Bud Light,” referring to his opposition to empowering McHenry.
McCarthy was asked about the fracas, as well. “I was at the mic, I was speaking, and Matt Gaetz tried to interrupt,” he explained. “I told him to sit down and he sat down. I think the entire conference screamed at him. The whole country I think would scream at Matt Gaetz right now.”
The GOP was, in the end, unable to get behind a resolution to appoint McHenry. “Republican voters worked too hard to give us the majority to enter some sort of temporary Speakership,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters, adding that “this conference is absolutely broken.”
House Republicans must now return to the drawing board. The only thing on it at the moment is Jordan, who doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to landing the 217 votes he needs to win the gavel. Nevertheless, he says he’s going to give it another go. “We made a pitch to members on the resolution as a way to lower the temperature and get back to work,” he told reporters, letting out a laugh at the idea of lowering the temperature. “We decided that wasn’t where we’re going to go. I’m still running for Speaker and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race.”