House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota, speaks to members of the media following a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Republican lawmakers on Tuesday nominated Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota for speaker of the House of Representatives, the third candidate they have selected in recent weeks after the previous two nominees failed to secure enough votes.
Emmer, the Republican majority whip, prevailed over a crowded field of eight GOP candidates after several rounds of voting Tuesday morning.
But the Minnesota Republican does not appear to have the 217 Republican votes needed the secure the gavel. Twenty-six Republicans opposed Emmer in a vote held after his nomination to gauge support before brining the majority whip before the House floor.
Emmer can only afford to lose four GOP votes, as Democrats have lined up in lockstep behind their nominee, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
House Republicans are on break to give Emmer time to speak with the roughly two dozen lawmakers who still oppose his nomination, several GOP members told NBC News.
Republicans will return at 4 p.m. ET to resume their closed-door meeting. It is unclear whether Emmer will face a vote on the House floor Tuesday.
The House has been leaderless for nearly three weeks now, which has left Congress paralyzed and unable to move forward with spending legislation as a Nov. 17 deadline looms to avoid a government shutdown. Congress is also unable to respond to President Joe Biden’s call for emergency security assistance for Israel and Ukraine until the House elects a speaker.
Emmer is relative moderate within the GOP, which will likely draw the ire of hard-right members of the party. The Minnesota Republican voted to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory and also voted for spending legislation in September that averted a government shutdown.
Emmer spoke with Donald Trump on Monday in a effort to secure his backing, but the former president slammed the Republican majority whip on social media, deriding him as a “globalist” and not a true Republican.
“Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake,” Trump said Tuesday in a post on Truth Social.
Emmer has the backing of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“He sets himself head and shoulders above all those others who want to run,” McCarthy said of Emmer in an interview with NBC News on Sunday. “We need to get him elected this week and move on and bring this not just party together but focus on what this country needs most.”
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was forced to abandon his bid on Friday after his nomination failed in three separate votes. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the original nominee, pulled his candidacy before even facing the House floor after it became clear he did not have enough votes.
The House leadership crisis was triggered when a faction of eight Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, ousted McCarthy in a historically unprecedented no-confidence vote. Democrats refused to save McCarthy’s speakership, leading to the California Republican’s downfall.
— CNBC’s Emily Wilkins contributed to this report.
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