House GOP Whip Tom Emmer’s bid to be speaker is on the verge of collapse amid opposition from the right flank of his conference and fresh attacks waged by former President Donald Trump – coming just hours after the Minnesota Republican was picked as the party’s nominee.
Several Republicans who oppose Emmer say they will not move off their opposition and are calling for a new candidate. Emmer can only afford to lose four Republicans, and 26 voted against him behind closed doors.
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 have cited as issues.
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.”
Pressure is intensifying on House Republicans to elect a new speaker three weeks after the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as the House has remained in a state of paralysis ever since.
McCarthy is backing Emmer, which delivered an early boost to his candidacy. But the Minnesota Republican faces an uphill battle as he faces a deeply divided GOP conference and a very narrow majority. Winning a majority of the conference to become the speaker nominee is a lower bar to clear than what’s needed to win the gavel on the floor, which requires a majority of the full chamber.
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.
House Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole said on Tuesday that he had more optimism that Republicans will be able to coalesce around a candidate after weeks of “bloodletting.”
“I think people are kind of exhausted a little bit, and the bloodletting is about to stop,” said Cole, an Oklahoma Republican. “I think we’re gonna rally around somebody and have a really good candidate.”
Asked about some hardliners who have been mum when asked if they’d back Emmer if he were the nominee, Cole said at some point members have to decide enough is enough.
“If you want to be in the doghouse forever, this is about as good a way as I know to get there,” he said. “This is a time for people to rally together and get behind whoever wins the majority vote in the conference.”
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 has updated with updated with additional information and developments.