Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will back a resolution to empower Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) as he continues to work to shore up support for his Speaker bid, according to a source familiar.
The move comes after Jordan failed on two ballots to get the 217 votes he needed to win the gavel and opponents were promising greater resistance.
But it’s unclear whether a vote to empower McHenry would pass muster on the House floor.
While the push to expand McHenry’s power has been growing this week, a number of Republicans pushed back on the idea Thursday.
“Oh, hell no. Hades no,” Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) told reporters. Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said Republicans “shouldn’t be setting this precedent,” and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said he was “absolutely” going to vote against it.
How many defections there ultimately are — and whether any Democrats help make up the difference — remains the key question.
The resolution would broadly grant McHenry the same powers as an elected Speaker, but it would only leave him in the role until January, and he would not be in the line of presidential succession.
Jordan is not dropping out of the race and will remain the GOP’s Speaker-designee.
Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) and other GOP lawmakers pushed for the move after Jordan’s second failed vote to secure the Speakership, in which he lost further support from the GOP conference.
“After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options. By empowering Patrick McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new Speaker is elected,” Joyce said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
But much like on the speaker’s race itself, the conference remains divided on whether to further establish McHenry in the role.
“Never in the history of this institution…have we ever appointed a Speaker pro tempore with the full powers of the Speakership without having a duly elected Speaker,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told reporters.
“To do that we’d be playing games…We should do our job and select the Speaker – the Constitution says that.”
Other GOP members have expressed concern that installing McHenry would take needed pressure off the conference as it works to sort out who should lead them.
Some Jordan supporters have also backed the idea.
“I’m very aware of the math, and it’s very clear to me that the most logical solution at this point is to empower the Speaker pro temp so that we get back to work,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) said Wednesday.
McHenry, for his part, has resisted becoming Speaker. Earlier this year he declined to run for leadership, preferring to lead the House Financial Services Committee. He voted for Jordan on both ballots.
Democrats have expressed openness to the idea, but have stepped back to let Republicans approach them on any agreement that would require their support — a likely need given the status of the GOP.
“We’re looking for ways to reopen the government and get bipartisan bills to the floor. So the balls in their court. This is their civil war. They’re the majority. They have to elect the speaker. We hope that they will come to us now that there have been two votes, and Jim Jordan has been unable to put it together and find that bipartisanship,” House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) told reporters after leaving a conference meeting.
“Our unity is our strength,” she added
Updated at 12:53 p.m.