More than a week after a group of eight House Republicans voted alongside Democrats to vacate the speakership, the majority party is still attempting to find a consensus candidate to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the leadership position.
While House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-highest-ranking Republican in the chamber, might typically be seen as the obvious choice, he has faced serious competition from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is proving popular across the party’s conservative wing.
Trump endorses Rep Jim Jordan for Speaker: pic.twitter.com/o3z5FyuKHn
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) October 6, 2023
Scalise emerged as the nominee on Wednesday during a secret vote within the GOP caucus, but the matter did not go to the full chamber out of apparent concern that he would not receive enough support in a narrowly divided House to be elected.
One GOP lawmaker recently expressed concerns about Scalise and cited an incident from more than two decades ago as the reason she would not be comfortable with serving as speaker.
“I’ve been very vocal about this in the past few days,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) during a CNN interview this week. “I personally cannot, in good conscience, vote for someone who attended a white supremacist conference and compared himself to David Duke.”
Mace, who was one of the handful of Republicans who voted in favor of McCarthy’s ouster, referenced Scalise’s participation in a 2002 event hosted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, was the leader of the organization.
The South Carolina Republican said she “would be doing an enormous disservice” to her constituents if she voted to make Scalise the next speaker.
For his part, Scalise has denied that he knew about the group’s extremist ties before speaking at the event and agreed to attend as part of a larger tour during which he addressed support for tax cuts and reduced government spending.
“One of the many groups that I spoke to regarding this critical legislation was a group whose views I wholeheartedly condemn,” he said in 2014. “It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.”
Scalise went on to assert that he was “disappointed” by efforts to connect him to the organization’s controversial stances.
“As a Catholic these groups hold views that are vehemently opposed to my own personal faith, and I reject that kind of hateful bigotry,” he declared.