In a surprising turn of events, Rep. George Santos (R-NY) announced his opposition to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as the Republican nominee for speaker of the House. Santos, who declared himself as “ANYONE but Scalise,” expressed frustration over the lack of communication from Scalise and his belief that his vote doesn’t matter to the Louisiana representative.
This defection is a blow to Scalise’s chances of securing the necessary votes to become speaker, as he can only afford to lose four Republican votes on the House floor. If more Republicans follow Santos’s lead, it could mirror the situation faced by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his struggle to maintain support.
To add to Scalise’s woes, former President Donald Trump is not expected to endorse him for speaker. Trump has thrown his support behind House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Scalise’s rival for the nomination. This further complicates the race and raises questions about Scalise’s ability to unite the party.
The decision by House Republicans to report their nominee for speaker with a simple majority, rather than the traditional 217 votes, has rushed the process and increased the chances of a contentious battle on the House floor. The ongoing conflict in Israel has not been enough to bring Republicans together, highlighting the divisions within the party.
While Scalise has proven his doubters wrong in the past, there are concerns among both centrists and conservatives about the chaos and historic speaker-toppling that would come as a result of supporting him. Some Republicans are looking for a speaker that aligns more closely with the ideologies of the Freedom Caucus and can send a stronger message.
However, at some point, Republicans need to prioritize governance and defending their majority in the upcoming 2024 elections. Both parties are grappling with the challenge of enacting their sweeping agendas amidst political polarization and limited popular appeal. While progressives seek to bulldoze obstacles, conservatives aim to extract concessions from their leadership through threats of regime change and strategic maneuvering.
The outcome of the Scalise speakership fight remains uncertain, leaving many observers wondering if the GOP majority can effectively play the game of politics.