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Candidates for speaker of the House are beginning to emerge


The race is on to find a new speaker of the House.


That's right. Following Tuesday's historic vote to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republicans are scrambling to figure out who can get the votes to replace him. So far, there are two declared candidates, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh is following this. She's joining us now. Deirdre, Scalise, Jordan - two of the more well-known GOP House members. But give us a quick profile of each.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: They are both very conservative. Jim Jordan founded the far-right House Freedom Caucus. He developed a reputation sort of as an outsider attacking his own leadership. But he did end up developing a close relationship with Speaker McCarthy. He's been leading the investigations into the Biden administration and impeachment. He's also close to former President Trump.

Scalise is currently the No. 2 leader. He's well liked by members. He's actually personally gone through a lot. He was shot at a practice of the House GOP baseball team back in 2017 and almost died. More recently, he announced he's being treated for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. He says he's feeling better and he's up to the job. Scalise ideologically is also considered to the right of McCarthy in terms of how conservative he's considered.

There's a third candidate, Oklahoma Republican Kevin Hern, who may run. He heads a large group of fiscal conservatives.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So more names, I'm sure, might come up between now and next week. But do Republicans like their options so far?

WALSH: Some do. A lot won't say. It's part of a challenge in these leadership races. These are secret ballot elections. There's also a lot of concern about avoiding another messy fight on the House floor. I'm sure you remember the one back in January.


WALSH: It took four days and 15 ballots to elect McCarthy. The other thing is just in the last seven years, there's been three changes at the top of the GOP leadership ladder. One House Republican member I talked to - Kelly Armstrong from North Dakota - said this time is not a normal speaker election. There needs to be some discussion about getting around these internal divisions.

KELLY ARMSTRONG: This has happened three times now - Boehner, Ryan, McCarthy. And the solution to that problem can't be just promote everybody one step. That's not it.

WALSH: Many lawmakers, even before they pick a new speaker next Wednesday, want to talk about changing House rules, including the one that was used to get rid of McCarthy.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, Congress just passed a bill to avoid a shutdown, but, you know, the House is paralyzed right now. Temporary funding runs out November 17. No money for Ukraine, Deirdre. How will all that be affected?

WALSH: All of this chaos in the House leadership is going to make it a lot harder to get money for Ukraine approved and much harder to avoid a shutdown next month. There is bipartisan support in terms of Ukraine in both the House and the Senate for sending more weapons, more humanitarian aid. But House Republicans are deeply split on this issue. Just last month, more than half voted against more money for Ukraine. Jim Jordan was one of those. And he argues it's just not a priority for him.


JIM JORDAN: The most pressing issue on Americans' mind is not Ukraine. It is the border situation, and it's crime on the streets. And everybody knows that.

WALSH: Senate Republicans who support money for Ukraine are already worried and trying to figure out a way to get it approved. In terms of avoiding a shutdown, it's really hard to see how a new Republican speaker is going to want to reach across the aisle to pass a bill with Democrats, especially after what happened to McCarthy when he did that.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. We'll find out who gets the job. That's NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thanks a lot.

WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.