Members of the House will try again to elect a new speaker
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Back in Washington, the House is on track to vote later today to possibly elect a new speaker.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The Republican nominee is now Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who is popular with the Republican Party base for his inflammatory rhetoric. And he has Donald Trump's endorsement. Here he is yesterday talking with reporters.
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JIM JORDAN: I feel real good about the momentum we have, and I think we're real close. The vote's going to be tomorrow.
INSKEEP: Although he needs 217 votes to prevail, and it's unclear that he can lock down that majority since only Republicans would vote for him.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR political correspondent Susan Davis joins us now. Sue, if all members are present and voting later today, Jim Jordan will need 217 votes to become speaker. So how close is he to getting those votes?
SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: He appears to be closing the gap. There's still clearly some holdouts, but the vote seems to be moving in his direction. As of Friday, 55 Republicans had said in a secret ballot that they did not want to support him for speaker. But since then, endorsements have been trickling in. Just one example - Ann Wagner is a Republican from Missouri. Last week, she swore that she would, quote, "absolutely not" support Jim Jordan for speaker. She put out a statement yesterday saying she would, in fact, support Jim Jordan for speaker. But the math is still really tight. He can only lose four Republican votes and still get the gavel. Even Jordan's closest allies conceded going into the likely vote today that it could take multiple ballots to get him there.
MARTÍNEZ: So what are the main holdups, then, among Republicans about having Jim Jordan as their speaker?
DAVIS: A lot of the resistance comes from appropriators and defense hawks. Appropriators, of course, are the ones that write the annual 12 spending bills. They're worried about a shutdown. And Jordan has a history of opposing the very spending bills that you need to pass in order to avoid doing that. He's also always been sort of indifferent to spending cuts, and that makes defense hawks get a little nervous. He's also been skeptical of Ukraine aid, which is a big priority for those lawmakers in particular. The aid has been delayed getting through the House because of conservative opposition from people like Jim Jordan. And there's a lot of frustration among defense hawks because a lot of the Ukraine aid money is actually money that would be spent here in the U.S. It goes to defense manufacturers to replenish US weapons systems because the US is donating a lot of its old weapons and equipment over to Ukraine.
MARTÍNEZ: And as far as Democrats go, how in line will they be on a vote today?
DAVIS: Democrats also met last week. They unanimously agreed that their leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, would be their nominee, and they are all expected to vote for him on the floor. So no Democratic support expected today.
MARTÍNEZ: OK. It's been two weeks, two weeks without a speaker. No legislation, nothing can move through the House until there is a speaker. If he is elected today, what would Jim Jordan's first order of business be?
DAVIS: Well, the Hamas attack on Israel has obviously scrambled the legislative agenda. There at the top of the list would be Israel-related items. There's a resolution condemning Hamas for the attack that both chambers would like to pass relatively quickly. The question of whether he would allow Israel aid to be linked to Ukraine aid is a question that Jim Jordan has not answered, even though he's been asked it repeatedly, although he is publicly saying that he would support moving fast on Israel aid and would like to keep those two issues separate. And, of course, A, you've heard this before. There's a government shutdown deadline looming. The current stopgap runs through November 17. None of the annual 12 spending bills have been approved yet. So Jim Jordan is going to have to very quickly go from being the lawmaker that tends to oppose spending bills to being a lead negotiator in finding consensus to pass bipartisan spending bills to keep the government open.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR political correspondent Susan Davis. Susan, thanks.
DAVIS: You're welcome.
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