Backstabbing and bad blood: Republicans remain gridlocked over who to elect as next House Speaker and the chamber is still paralyzed despite Biden’s call on Congress to act NOW to help Israel

The House of Representatives is paralyzed as Republicans remain gridlocked on who to elect as their next Speaker, despite President Biden’s call on Congress to help Israel immediately as they battle terrorist organization Hamas.

Biden delivered a dramatic address on Tuesday promising to stand with Israel and denouncing the ‘unadulterated evil’ of terrorist attacks which killed more than 1,000 people, including 14 Americans, over the weekend.

The president said he plans to ask Congress to quickly approve additional funding for the security of American allies including Israel.

‘When Congress returns, we’re going to ask them to take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our critical partners,’ Biden said. ‘This is not about party or politics. It’s about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America.’

This ask may prove more challenging than usual as the House of Representatives just ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a power vacuum remains. Infighting within the GOP may drag out the process to confirm a new House leader for days.

And the Senate doesn’t return to D.C. until next week. 

U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, makes remarks after speaking by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the House's number two Republican, is running for the speakership

Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the House’s number two Republican, is running for the speakership  

Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, is running against Scalise for the speakership

Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, is running against Scalise for the speakership 

And the House cannot move any legislation to the floor without a speaker in place.

Earlier this week, acting Speaker Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., stated that the House will act to approve Israel aid if necessary – even without an elected speaker.

‘If we need to act as a government, we will,’ he told reporters.

Republicans are voting internally Wednesday morning on whether to promote Jim Jordan, who chairs the powerful House Judiciary Committee, or Steve Scalise, the House’s number two Republican, to the top leadership spot. 

On Tuesday evening, Republicans heard from both Scalise and Jordan during a question-and-answer forum.

Whichever candidate gets the majority within the conference then must go against the Democratic candidate, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, on the House floor to be elected speaker. 

With only a four-vote majority, Republicans must be nearly unanimous to push their candidate through the House.  

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., also left the meeting not confident the House would get a speaker Wednesday. ‘It’s going to take more than one day to get this done.’  

But Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., one of the eight Republicans who voted with McCarthy to oust Democrats last week, had a more optimistic outlook. 

‘I think so,’ he told when asked if he thought either candidate could get to a majority on the House floor tomorrow. He declined to say who he supported. 

Scalise, who is battling blood cancer on top of running for speaker, left the meeting and said he pitched himself as a ‘unifier’ within the conference. ‘People want to see us get back on track,’ he said. 

Scalise, as a current member of the GOP leadership team, has seemingly garnered more traction among establishment Republicans while Jordan is popular with the conference’s right wing. 

A sizable number of Jordan supporters have not committed to supporting Scalise if he ends up being the candidate who gets the most vote within the conference. 

Rep. Dan Bishop, a McCarthy foe who threatened to support ousting him but ultimately didn’t, now supports Jordan. He didn’t rule out supporting Scalise but said he didn’t believe the majority leader had a ‘crystal clear plan’ to lead the conference through a tough spending battle. 

‘Some of [my concerns] with Scalise are so obvious that I’m not going to say it,’ Bishop told ‘But do we really think this institution works so well that we should just move up the next guy?’

‘If you think that Congress and Republicans in Congress have done a fantastic job with 20 years, then it would make sense,’ said Bishop. ‘If you think there’s been shortcomings, then maybe not.’ 

Both Scalise and Jordan admitted that they would need to put a continuing resolution (CR) – a bill to extend government funding at FY 2023 levels and avert a government shutdown while they hash out a longer term spending plan. 

CRs are widely disliked – particularly with the right wing flank and were what prompted McCarthy’s ouster. 

Kevin McCarthy told allies not to nominate him for the speakership

Kevin McCarthy told allies not to nominate him for the speakership  

But one emerging consensus among Republicans was they wanted to rectify a lack of transparency and honesty they found under McCarthy’s leadership. 

‘We have been hearing of nothing but backroom deals and promises that have been made then supposedly broke,’ said Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla. She said Jordan was the only candidate who said he would not honor any backroom promises. 

She also predicted the speaker’s race could drag on indefinitely. 

‘I don’t know if by the end of tomorrow we will have a speaker – I don’t know if by the end of the week we will have a speaker,’ she told reporters. ‘I just don’t think that there is a candidate at this point in time who has a lion’s share of the support.’ 

And without an elected House speaker, the lower chamber cannot move on to other legislative priorities – namely passing spending legislation to avert a government shutdown next month, and aid to replenish Israel’s defense capabilities amid attacks from Hamas.