Thursday, October 19, 2023

Crossing Off Jordan

Update: Jim Jordan officially caved.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will not seek an additional speaker vote Thursday, and he will back a plan to give Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.), the temporary speaker, additional powers, according to multiple people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation. After two rounds of votes, a group of Republicans had made clear that Jordan did not have enough support to win the speaker’s gavel. With House functions at a standstill, lawmakers can now move forward on a proposal to expand McHenry’s powers.

More from Charles P. Pierce.

Forty-five years ago this week, the cardinals of Holy Mother Church met in conclave to elect a new pope two months after they’d elected the previous one. Pope John Paul I had been elected in August and he was dead by the second week of October. As the conclave gathered again, the betting favorites were Giuseppe Cardinal Siri of Genoa and Giovanni Cardinal Benelli of Florence. However, the rapid succession of the conclaves, one fast after another, created a fluid situation among the cardinals and, soon, rumors flew that the conclave might be on the verge of going hog wild and electing a non-Italian for the first time since 1522. The Italian cardinals realized that it was slipping away, and that neither Siri nor Benelli was going to receive enough votes, so they began a frantic search for what became known as a “compromise Italian.” They settled on Giovanni Cardinal Colombo, the archbishop of Milan but, as soon as Colombo saw that he was picking up votes, he announced that he would not accept election. Which is how we got Pope John Paul II.

Right now, the Republicans in the House of Representatives need themselves a compromise Italian in one quick hurry, because Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Van Heusen) is as done as a hunk of brisket. On the second ballot, he lost two more votes than he lost on Tuesday. He had four members who voted for him yesterday flip on him today. In related news, Lee Zeldin got another vote for the congressional Undead. Rep. John James of Michigan voted for Candice Miller, the commissioner of public works for Macomb County, because why the hell not? But the best moment came when Rep. Mike Kelly voted for former Speaker John Boehner, and I was instantly overwhelmed by the vision of a mouthful of fine Merlot being spewed across a handsome den in Ohio.

Perhaps the most important individual roadblock to Jordan’s candidacy is not Don Bacon or Mario Diaz-Balart, both of whom would like Jordan’s head on a stick. Neither is it any of the famous Republicans From Biden Districts. It is an 80-year old conservative from Texas named Kay Granger. She’s the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. When she went against Jordan on Tuesday, it was a genuine temblor in the calculations. Granger is Establishment personified. It is not a leap to speculate that Granger has become frosted at Jordan’s annual attempts to fck with the Appropriations process for transitory political gain. He is too eager to use the threat of a shutdown to get what he wants. And, as the last few days have demonstrated, Jordan has all the political savvy of a jackhammer. Granger simply may be fed up with his act. She voted against him again on Wednesday, as did two other Texas members of the Appropriations Committee, Tony Gonzales and Jake Ellzey.

Basically, there is a power bloc in the House now dedicated to getting the House to function as a proper legislature again instead of a vehicle for Fox-fed fantasies and imaginary grievances. That may point them, finally, toward some sort of deal that allows interim Speaker Patrick McHenry to exercise the powers of the office at least until the current continuing resolution expires in November. But any deal like that will require some Democratic votes, which is bound to raise the hackles of the Angry Children’s Caucus. Already on TV, shortly after the balloting had left it without a Speaker, people on TV were already talking about whether an interim Speaker would be vulnerable to a motion to vacate the chair. It’s hard not to just give up.

But we still don’t know who’s next to put their head on the chopping block.