Tom Emmer Nominated for Speaker of the House, but Remains 100 Votes Short
House Republicans have nominated Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) as the party’s latest nominee for Speaker of the House. Emmer, the third-highest Republican in the House of Representatives, beat six more conservative candidates to become the third speaker nominee.
Voting reportedly lasted five ballots, with candidates dropping out after each round of voting. Emmer reportedly defeated his final challenger, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), on the fifth ballot by a vote of 117-97.
That leaves Emmer 100 votes shy of the 217 votes he needs to win a floor vote to become the next Speaker of the House, a post that has been vacant for 21 days.
But Emmer, who earned a 93% lifetime rating from FRC Action, cast numerous “concerning votes on questions of sexuality and family,” said Travis Weber, vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at the Family Research Council.
Emmer was one of just 39 House Republicans to vote twice for the so-called “Respect for Marriage” Act, federal legislation which required all 50 states to recognize any marriage license granted in any other state. In effect, the top-down national directive allowed any one state to veto the marriage protection legislation of any other state. Critics said it also lacked any meaningful religious liberty protections.
Emmer voted to cut off military funding, stymying President Donald Trump’s efforts to implement a policy strengthening the military by barring people who openly identify as transgender in 2019. Emmer also voted for an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have forced defense contractors to open women’s worksite restrooms or changing facilities to men.
The House Freedom Caucus, the focus of action for the chamber’s more conservative members, has not assured Emmer of its support on the floor. “We want to sit down with whoever gets it as a Freedom Caucus and understand what their roles will be, what they want to push” in office, and the nominee’s priorities, said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) before Emmer’s nomination.
Winning the GOP nomination does not equate with winning the prized gavel as Speaker of the House. House Republicans have already nominated House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), neither of whom could secure 217 votes on the floor.
A source inside the closed-door House vote circulated the following list of 20 Republican holdouts who remain dubious about supporting Emmer, and the individual whom the individual most recently supported for Speaker of the House:
- Rick Allen (Ga.) — Johnson
- Jim Banks (Ind.) — Jordan
- Andy Biggs (Ariz.) — present
- Josh Brecheen (Okla.) — Jordan
- Michael Cloud (Texas) — Jordan
- Andrew Clyde (Ga.) — Jordan
- Mike Collins (Ga.) — Jordan
- Eli Crane (Ariz.) — Johnson
- Warren Davidson (Ohio) — present
- Bob Good (Va.) — Johnson
- Paul Gosar (Ariz.) — Jordan
- Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) — Jordan
- Diana Harshbarger (Tenn.) — Johnson
- Ronny Jackson (Texas) — Jordan
- Thomas Massie (Ky.) —Jordan
- Mary Miller (Ill.) — Jordan
- Max Miller (Ohio) — Jordan
- Cory Mills (Fla.) — Donalds
- Troy Nehls (Texas) — present
- Ralph Norman (S.C.) — Jordan
- Andy Ogles (Tenn.) — Jordan
- Scott Perry (Pa.) — Jordan
- Chip Roy (Texas) — present
- Keith Self (Texas) — Jordan
- Greg Steube (Fla.) — present
To date, the candidate who has gotten the most votes to replace Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who has enjoyed the full backing of the Democratic Party.
Democrats could cross the aisle to support a Republican, either by voting for him outright or by reducing the number of votes a Republican needs for a majority by voting “present.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.