House Republicans are once again scrambling for a path forward after Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer dropped his bid for speaker just hours after winning his party’s nomination.
The swift exit from the race is the latest sign that Republicans are still no closer to electing a new speaker three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster.
The House remains in a state of paralysis, and Republicans remain unable to govern as the conference has repeatedly failed to coalesce around a successor to McCarthy amid deep division within the ranks. The politically precarious situation has plunged the House into uncharted territory as it looks increasingly unclear whether any Republican can get the 217 votes needed to win the gavel.
Emmer is now the third Republican to win the nomination of the GOP conference only to then exit the race after failing to lock up the necessary votes to win the gavel.
Earlier in the day, Emmer’s bid to be speaker appeared on the verge of collapse amid opposition from the right flank of his conference and fresh attacks waged by former President Donald Trump. Emmer could only afford to lose four Republicans in a floor vote, and 26 voted against him behind closed doors, an ominous sign for his speaker’s bid.
Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election, voted to keep the government open for 47 days, voted for the bipartisan law to avoid a debt default and voted to codify same-sex marriage – all issues that members of the hard-right had cited as issues for his candidacy.
In a post on Truth Social on Tuesday, Trump went after Emmer after House Republicans elected him as their latest speaker nominee, writing that voting for Emmer “would be a tragic mistake.”
Ahead of his exit, members of Trump’s team also called GOP members and urged them to oppose Emmer for speaker, two sources told CNN. One source said they’re “whipping hard.” The other source said more members were pulling their support because of it.
Despite a cordial phone call with the former president over the weekend, Trump reposted attacks against the House GOP whip on Truth Social Monday night and then followed up with his own attack after Emmer was nominated.
Leaving a GOP conference meeting Monday night, Emmer told CNN, “We have a good relationship,” when asked about Trump.
With multiple candidates in the running, members cast a series of successive secret ballots on Tuesday with the candidate with the fewest number of votes in each round dropped from the race. The other candidates who had been in the running were: Reps. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Byron Donalds of Florida, Austin Scott of Georgia, Jack Bergman of Michigan and Pete Sessions of Texas.
Republicans gathered on Monday for the candidate forum also behind closed doors. Meuser, who had been in the running, dropped his bid at that meeting.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas told CNN’s Manu Raju on Monday, “It’s going to be very difficult, but we have to get there,” when asked how concerned he is that no candidate can get 217 votes on the floor.
And GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida warned that if the eventual nominee can’t get to 217 votes on the floor, the conference may have to work with Democrats.
“It’s, it’s not good. Because a lot of people are gonna want to – with a mind set out there, they don’t want to work with Democrats, but it might end up to be a point where that’s the only way,” Buchanan said. “We’ve got to get the government open. People are very angry, upset.”
This story and headline have been updated with updated with additional information and developments.