House Republicans are set to meet Tuesday morning as they aim to select a Speaker nominee — but eight declared candidates are still in the running, which means the decision-making process could take a while.
The conference gathers at 9 a.m. for its closed-door internal election.
House GOP conference rules dictate that all contested elections are decided by a secret ballot, and that no proxy voting is allowed.
A candidate must win a majority of all votes cast in the internal election — and if no member receives a majority, the lowest vote-getter is dropped from consideration.
“This procedure repeats until a member receives a majority of all votes cast,” reads an October 2023 leadership candidate election guide shared with The Hill.
That means if the Speaker election goes multiple rounds without a clear leader, it could take hours for the conference to reach a majority winner.
It will be the House GOP’s third attempt to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was ousted three weeks ago.
The House GOP’s first nominee, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), withdrew his candidacy a day after being nominated due to internal GOP holdouts; and the conference rescinded its nomination of House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) after he lost three ballots on the House floor.
Both had won their nominations in votes that were far from unanimous.
Earlier this month, some Republicans had pushed to change House GOP conference rules in order to ensure that the nominee had enough support to win on the House floor — 217 votes, which would be nearly unanimous in the House GOP conference — in hopes of avoiding a messy public fight.
But no rules changes are expected to be brought up for Tuesday’s balloting procedures, according to multiple sources.
There are currently 224 members of the House Republican Conference, which includes delegates to American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Though the delegates cannot vote on the House floor, they can vote in the House GOP conference — meaning a majority number to win the House GOP nomination is 112 votes if all members of the conference cast a ballot.
The House GOP conference typically does not publish the ballot totals from its internal elections and only reveals the winner, and The Hill and other news outlets learn of those totals from sources and from lawmakers who leave the meeting.
After Jordan’s nomination last month, Republicans took another secret-ballot validation vote on his nomination, asking members if they would support Jordan on the House floor as the nominee. That came in at 152-55.
It is possible that Republicans take a similar vote after a nominee is selected Tuesday.
Rep. Mike Flood (R-Neb.) was encouraging his colleagues to sign a pledge to back whomever the conference picks in its internal election Tuesday to avoid a repeat of the first two nominees’ fates.
Candidates would pledge to “support the Speaker Designate duly elected by the House Republican Conference—regardless of who that candidate is—when their election proceeds to the House Floor” and “pledge to vote for the Speaker Designate on the House Floor for as long as they remain the Speaker Designate.”
Every candidate has signed the pledge.
Candidates in the running range from members of GOP leadership to hard-line conservatives and lesser-known members. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) is the highest-ranking Republican seeking the nomination, but his candidacy has not scared off eight of his colleagues from also throwing their hats into the ring.
Other candidates include Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), chair of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House; House GOP Vice Chair Mike Johnson (R-La.); second-term Freedom Caucus member Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.); and Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), a former Marine Corps lieutenant general and the highest-ranking military officer elected to serve in Congress.
Republicans first narrowly nominated Scalise as its Speaker nominee, but he withdrew a day later as many members — mostly supporters of Jordan — withheld support for the majority leader.
Republicans then nominated Jordan for the position — but he lost three votes on the House floor as Scalise allies, bitter about how he was treated, withheld support for the Ohio Republican on the House floor.
If every House member is present and voting for a candidate, the GOP Speaker nominee can afford to lose just four Republican votes on the House floor and still win the gavel.