Charlie Spiering: Here We Go Again -- Nominating Steve Scalise Puts Republicans Back at Square One  

Columnist Charlie Spiering writes, "By abandoning Jim Jordan, Republicans lose their chance to take a major stand against Democrats and offer new leadership and a sharply different opposing agenda."

Charlie Spiering

October 12, 20233 min read

Charlie Spiering
Charlie Spiering (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Republicans nominated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise Wednesday as their choice to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was unceremoniously shoved aside last week by eight angry Republicans. But Scalise's nomination is only the beginning, as he needs to win the support of 217 House Republicans to win the position of Speaker.

The nomination was politics as usual. When the leader is ousted, the second in command steps up to take his place. A quiet group of moderate Republicans made sure that happened, as Scalise earned just 14 votes above veteran conservative fighter Rep. Jim Jordan who tried to jump ahead with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. The vote was held behind closed doors in a secret ballot so no one had to publicly reveal or defend their vote.

By abandoning Jordan, Republicans lose their chance to take a major stand against Democrats and offer new leadership and a sharply different opposing agenda. It reflects the significant majority of Washington Congressional Republicans who refuse to take marching orders from Trump, pursuing their tactics of quiet behind-the-scenes negotiations to move government forward. 

By ousting McCarthy, Republicans are back at square one as Scalise struggles to convince a roughly 20-member group of conservatives who remain reluctant to back him. The well-publicized small vocal group of House conservative rebels who forced major concessions from McCarthy are set to make similar demands of Scalise. Some are determined to vote for Jordan anyway, even though Jordan conceded to Scalise.  

Scalise has earned a place of national respect, serving 13 years in the House. He was gravely wounded in 2017 during the Congressional baseball shooting when a deranged leftist attacked the Republican practice before the game. Scalise took a bullet to the hip, which fractured multiple bones and injured internal organs and put his life in critical danger. He survived, much to the relief of his House colleagues, but his health battles continued. In August he disclosed his battle with multiple myeloma, a treatable blood cancer that he says is diminishing.  

His political battle is just beginning. By nominating Scalise, the moderate group of House Republicans are again trying to force through a speaker that has not unified the party. Scalise is experienced, but also willing to make major concessions to prove Republicans can lead when the world is on fire after the terrorist attacks in Israel.

"We have a lot of work to do," Scalise said to reporters after his nomination, ticking off a list of priorities to remind splintered House Republicans they were running out of time to unite.

Scalise is on square one, but the race finish line will be much faster. Scalise has been around Washington, DC, long enough to know that last-minute emergencies have a way of forcing through a lot of uncomfortable votes, even though Republican rebels will be protesting the entire way. 

Charlie Spiering is a Wyoming native who works in Washington, D.C., where he continues writing about the White House, Congress and national politics. A former writer for Breitbart News, The Washington Examiner and columnist Robert Novak, Spiering frequently returns home to the family farm in Powell to escape the insanity of Washington.

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Charlie Spiering