Jim Jordan fails to win House speakership on first ballot

Rep. Jim Jordan participates in the press conference calling on President Trump to declassify the Carter Page FISA applications on Thursday, September 6, 2018.
Rep. Jim Jordan participates in the press conference calling on President Trump to declassify the Carter Page FISA applications on Thursday, September 6, 2018. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

Rep. Jim Jordan, who lost in his first attempt on Tuesday to become the next speaker of the House, has been a key figure in House GOP-led investigations and made a name for himself as a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump.

Jordan, who has served in Congress since 2007 and was endorsed by Trump in his bid for the speakership, serves as chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. He has a longstanding reputation as a conservative agitator and helped found the hardline House Freedom Caucus.

In addition to chairing the House Judiciary Committee, Jordan is also the chair of the select subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal government. When former Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced a House GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, he said House Oversight Chairman James Comer would lead the effort in coordination with Jordan as Judiciary chair and Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith.

While Republicans say their investigative work is critical to informing the American public and ensuring accountability, Democrats frequently criticize Jordan as a hyper-partisan Trump defender and have accused him of using his perch to shield the former president in the run up to the 2024 presidential election. 

As Jordan oversees key House GOP investigations, Democrats also point to the fact that he stonewalled in response to a subpoena for his testimony from the House select committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Jordan, who supported objections to Electoral College results when Congress met to certify Biden’s presidential win on January 6, 2021, has downplayed concerns that he may be too conservative for some of the more moderate members of the GOP.

If Jordan wins the vote, his election as speaker would come after his own supporters blocked Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s path to the speaker’s gavel last week. While Jordan said he would support Scalise, more than a dozen of his supporters refused to support the House majority leader after Scalise defeated Jordan in a conference vote last week, 113 to 99.

Scalise dropped out in the face of the entrenched opposition, giving Jordan the opportunity to get the conference behind him.

Last week, in a vote asking GOP conference members if they would support Jordan on the floor, 55 Republicans said they would not. The Ohio Republican has since chipped away at a divided party, gaining the support of key skeptics ahead of a challenging floor vote in which Jordan can afford to lose only four Republicans if every House member votes.

Jordan, a former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, has been accused of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse. CNN reported in 2020 that six OSU wrestlers said they were present when Jordan heard or responded to sexual misconduct complaints about team doctor Richard Strauss, who died in 2005.

Jordan has emphatically denied that he knew anything about Strauss’ abuse during his own years working at OSU between the late 80s and the early 90s. “Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State,” his congressional office said in 2018.

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