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Steve Scalise nominated as House speaker candidate by GOP lawmakers

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U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) listens during a press conference following a House Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., July 18, 2023.

Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday selected Rep. Steve Scalise as their candidate for speaker of the House of Representatives, more than a week after Kevin McCarthy was ousted by rebel GOP members in a historic no-confidence vote.

Scalise defeated Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan in a 113 to 99 vote during a closed-door meeting.

Scalise, the Republican majority leader, will next face a full vote on the House floor, where he will need the support of 217 lawmakers to secure the speakership. The earliest such a vote before the full House could take place is 3 p.m. ET Wednesday.

It is unclear if Scalise can win the votes needed to become the next speaker. McCarthy faced a grueling 15 ballots before he was finally elected speaker in January.

Scalise told reporters Wednesday morning that his first item of business as speaker would be to pass a bipartisan resolution expressing U.S. solidarity with Israel in the wake of devastating terrorist attacks by Hamas that have killed at least 1,200 people.

“We got to get back to work today,” Scalise told reporters.

Jordan, when asked whether he would support Scalise, said he’d back “anyone who can get 217 votes.”

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The House remains leaderless more than a week after Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and seven other Republicans engineered the ousting of McCarthy, who ran afoul of hard-right members of the GOP for working with Democrats to pass spending legislation last month to avoid a government shutdown.

The House is effectively in a state of paralysis until someone is elected to take the speaker’s gavel.

The race to find a new speaker has become urgent as Israel seeks U.S. security assistance for its war on Hamas. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will ask Congress to take “urgent action” to fund the national security needs of U.S. partners as the Middle East descends into war and Ukraine wages its grinding counteroffensive to push Russia out of its eastern territories.

Congress also needs to pass spending legislation by Nov. 17 to avoid a government shutdown.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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