House Republicans have no clear front-runner for speakers after candidate forum

The House Republican Conference held a closed-door candidate forum Monday night, but emerged without a clear front-runner.

House Republicans met at the Longworth office building where nine candidates made their case to be the next speaker of the US House of Representatives.

The meeting was attended by Reps. Byron Donalds (R-FL). Mike Johnson (R-LA); Jack Bergman (R-MI); Kevin Hern (R-OK); Dan Meuser (R-PA); Gary Palmer (R-AL); Pete Sessions (R-TX); Austin Scott (R-GA); Pete Sessions (R-TX); and Tom Emmer (R-MN), who also serves as House Majority Whip. But Mr. Meuser dropped out early in the meet, narrowing the field to eight.

But any Republican would have to face narrow margins in the House. Republicans have only 221 members and the House has only 433 members, meaning each Republican candidate must have 217 votes and can afford to lose only four members.

“Well, we're going to take the vote and we've all agreed that we're going to take a vote, a roll call in the basement before we go upstairs,” Mr Hearn said. The independent. “So if we go to the floor, we'll have 217 votes.”

The forum comes 20 days after eight Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and every Democrat voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. In addition, House conservatives ousted House Majority Leader Steve Scalise before it could go to a vote. Last week, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) failed to get the necessary votes to become president, and Republicans voted to remove him as their nominee in a secret ballot.

“When you're five people or eight people and you underestimate the majority, there's a price to pay. And that happened last week,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). The independent. “Let us learn our lesson and we will resolve our differences as we do now behind closed doors.”

House Republicans are set to vote Tuesday on their nominee for President.

“We will do it tomorrow morning, and you will come together and work as a team,” said Mr. Bacon. “People who demand 100 percent in what we do fail.”

Some of the Republicans who had voted to oust Mr. McCarthy and who lobbied Jordan expressed optimism.

“We have a great crop of candidates,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust Mr. McCarthy and supported Jordan even after Scalise became a candidate. The independent.

Similarly, Mr. Gaetz praised Mr. Hearn and other Republicans' plans to pass the spending bills. Specifically, Republicans oppose passing so-called continuing resolutions, which are spending bills that Congress passes while passing full spending bills for a fiscal year, as well as omnibus spending bills, where all 12 spending bills that Congress must pass combined into one bill.

“Kevin Hearn really made a critique in his message to all members of continuing resolution and blanket bill governance and he has a plan to get us through these single-issue spending bills,” Mr. Gaetz told reporters. “I would also note that Rep. Mike Johnson had a spending bill plan on one issue that was also quite attractive.”

The race for speaker comes as Congress faces a looming deadline when the government runs out of money on Nov. 17.

“If we have to bridge with the continuing resolution, that would not be my preference, but we're certainly trying to go in the same direction,” Mr. Gaetz told reporters.

“The longer this goes on, the less confident I am that this will happen,” said Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX). The independent.

Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN), one of eight Republicans who voted to oust Mr. McCarthy, said The independent that he believed the House could pass a spending bill to keep the government open.

“Where was the rush when we were gone for six weeks,” he said, noting how Congress always acts like there's a rush to pass spending bills. “It comes down every year, same time every year. And yet, you know, this year all of a sudden, oh, it's a rush.”

Many Republicans appeared to feel a sense of resentment at not being able to rally around a speaker.

“I think our own needs and wants are what will get us there,” Mr. Sessions said The independent after the meeting. “I think there are only so many times you can go through this process. Go to the floor, make a mistake. And I think that made us more aware of the need to get things back in that room and then give the Americans a lot of confidence.”

When asked if Republicans could come together or if someone could win 217 votes, Rep. Dan Crenshaw simply said, “I don't know, man. I'm tired,” as he dug into a brownie.