Rep. Tom Emmer nominated by GOP for House speaker

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. Interim Speaker Patrick McHenry has said the nominee could face a vote before the House floor as soon as Tuesday.

It is unclear if Emmer can secure the 217 Republican votes needed on the House floor. He 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.

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 was one of the only GOP candidates who voted to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory. He also voted for spending legislation in September that averted a shutdown. 

The Republican majority whip 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.”

Emmer also spoke by phone with Donald Trump on Monday, though the former president has not endorsed the majority whip.

“I’m sort of trying to stay out of that as much as possible, but they’ll get it straightened out,” Trump told reporters on Monday.

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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