GOP nominates Steve Scalise for president amid bitter partisan divisions | ET REALITY


Annie Karni

Rep. Jim Jordan addressed a candidate forum with House Republicans to hear from members running for speaker of the U.S. House at the Longworth House Office Building on Wednesday.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Rep. Erin Houchin, a first-term Republican from Indiana, was chosen as a poster child for the new House GOP in the early months of the 118th Congress, touted by leaders as a fresh, friendly and broadly appealing face for her party.

Ms. Houchin joined the Main Street Caucus, a group of center-leaning Republicans, and became president of the Republican freshman class. She was a staunch ally of former President Kevin McCarthy, voting for the debt limit deal he forged with President Biden, pushing for her Republican colleagues to back the stopgap funding measure to keep the government open, and generally applauding the party agenda.

But on Wednesday, as Republicans met to select a new chairman to replace McCarthy, Houchin was set to deliver a nomination speech for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the hardline right-winger who co-founded the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus. .

She is part of a group of lawmakers who see themselves as pragmatic centrists but are now lining up behind Jordan, whose combative, right-leaning style and close alliance with former President Donald J. Trump have little in common. with them. .

Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, another centrist Republican, has also publicly endorsed Jordan.

Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, chair of the Main Street Caucus, and Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, the group’s vice chair, have not publicly said who they support. But they pushed unsuccessfully for a rule change that would have made it more difficult for Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican who is seen as the most traditional choice to succeed McCarthy, to prevail over Jordan in the election. . career.

They are also close allies of McCarthy. As members of the Main Street group, their stated purpose is “to develop pragmatic, common-sense legislation and promote tabletop politics in Congress.” Former Republican Speaker John A. Boehner called Jordan a “legislative terrorist” but struck a deal with McCarthy that took him from the periphery to the epicenter of politics on Capitol Hill.

This strange alignment is the ultimate reflection of how much of what happens on Capitol Hill is dictated more by which clique you belong to (and who you or your friends have personal issues with) than by your position on the ideological spectrum.

McCarthy and his allies have been quietly encouraging members to back Jordan over Scalise, with whom McCarthy has a frosty relationship. McCarthy’s rivalry with Scalise goes back years and is currently the subject of knowledge on Capitol Hill. At key moments in recent months, McCarthy excluded Scalise from decision-making, describing him to his colleagues as ineffective, bewildered and reluctant to take positions.

The candidates themselves presented themselves Wednesday as men capable of uniting their fragmented conference and overcoming the personal resentment that has come to define much of the war between House Republicans.

But Jordan qualified his support for Scalise, suggesting he would back the Louisianan only if he won a nearly unanimous Republican vote, much higher than the simple majority currently required under party rules. Jordan’s allies attempted to change these rules and raise the threshold, which would make it more difficult for Scalise to prevail. But the conference voted 135-88 Wednesday morning against the rule change.

“I will support anyone who can get 217 votes,” Jordan said as he entered the meeting room. “We have to come together as a conference.”

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