House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, announced to reporters on Wednesday that his top priority as House speaker would be passing a bipartisan resolution expressing support for Israel. This comes in response to the recent devastating terrorist attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Scalise emphasized the need for Congress to return to work promptly, select a speaker, and get the legislative process back on track.
He mentioned the McCaul-Meeks resolution, a bipartisan bill he intends to bring forward immediately to show support for Israel. The House Republicans are currently divided over who should become the next speaker, with Steve Scalise and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan both vying for the position after Rep. Kevin McCarthy was removed from the role as House Speaker in a historic vote last week.
A test vote is scheduled for Wednesday to determine whether Scalise or Jordan can secure enough support to become the next speaker. The Guardian reported that they can only afford up to four defections within the Republican conference and still win the speakership, given the GOP’s slim majority in the House.
Despite recent divisions within the Republican caucus, they must now come together to choose a new speaker so that they can focus on addressing the ongoing situation in Israel. Rep. Patrick McHenry serves as the acting speaker until a new leader is elected.
A bipartisan resolution expressing support for Israel, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul and the committee’s top Democrat, Gregory Meeks, is expected to be one of the first items considered on the House floor once a new speaker is elected, with strong bipartisan support anticipated.
The U.S. House briefly pauses to regroup before proceeding with a second round of voting to select its speaker.
In the initial ballot on Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, could not muster the required votes needed to secure the speakership. The House is scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.
Jordan and his supporters had foreseen the possibility of multiple voting rounds and are actively engaging in efforts to persuade Republicans who have reservations about his leadership to rally behind him.