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U.S. House Republicans nominate Scalise for speaker amid divisions

Published : 11 Oct 2023, 22:53

Updated : 11 Oct 2023, 23:02

  DF News Desk
This is an official photo of U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, posted on the website of the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo: U.S. House of Representatives via Xinhua.

U.S. House Republicans on Wednesday nominated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise for speaker in a closed-door voting amid deep divisions, paving the way for a floor vote in the chamber to elect a new speaker after Kevin McCarthy's historical ouster last week, reported Xinhua.

Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, won a 113-99 vote over Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

The vote came after the unprecedented ouster of McCarthy, who was booted out of his position on Tuesday last week, in a move initiated by a member of his own party. It marked the first time in U.S. history that a House speaker has been voted out of office in the middle of a term.

A win of only 14 votes by Scalise indicated the deep divisions among House Republicans, who now need to unite behind the Louisiana Republican in order to reach the required simple majority threshold in the chamber to elect a speaker, as Republicans hold a slim 221-212 majority.

Despite Scalise winning the Republican conference vote, several Republican lawmakers said they still plan to support Jordan on the House floor, raising uncertainty as to whether Scalise would be able to garner enough House Republican votes to actually become speaker.

Scalise announced his cancer diagnosis earlier this year and said he would be undergoing "several months" of treatment for the disease, leading some to doubt whether he is fit to lead, and others to praise his personal courage.

For their part, House Democrats unanimously renominated House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a closed door meeting Tuesday night.

Speaker Pro Tempore Representative Patrick McHenry reportedly told members in the room they will meet at 3 p.m. eastern time Wednesday on the House floor. The vote for House speaker could take place.

The House can't move forward on its legislative process until a speaker is chosen, and lawmakers need to pass a spending bill before government funding runs out in mid-November. The House is also under pressure to take action following the escalated Palestinian-Israeli conflict.