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Chip Roy and Michael Cloud continue to express their opposition to Steve Scalise, even following his nomination for U.S. House speaker.

The two Texan dissenters, joined by a small group of other members who have pledged to vote against Rep. Steve Scalise, might introduce delays in the selection of the next House speaker.

Chip Roy and Michael Cloud continue to express their opposition to Steve Scalise, even following his nomination for U.S. House speaker.
After securing a majority of votes in a closed-door Republican meeting held at the Longworth House office building on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 11, 2023, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) was swarmed by reporters. He emerged as the chosen nominee for the next Speaker of the House.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Chip Roy, R-Austin, and Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, immediately pledged to vote against House Majority Leader Steve Scalise shortly after the Louisiana Republican secured the party's nomination for the next House speaker.


These votes, combined with several other hardline Republicans who have expressed similar intentions, have the potential to impede Scalise's path to the gavel.


Roy and Cloud were two of the three Texas lawmakers who opposed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy's bid for leadership in January, leading to gridlock and 15 separate votes in an effort to increase their faction's influence within the party. The third Texas holdout during those votes, U.S. Rep. Keith Self, R-McKinney, announced on social media that he voted against Scalise during a closed-door Republican conference meeting before the House-wide vote. He remained undecided about his stance for a floor vote.


The House adjourned on Wednesday without conducting a speaker vote, and Republicans did not set a date for the next voting session.


Scalise is running against House Judiciary Chair and Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan of Ohio to succeed McCarthy as speaker, following McCarthy's removal from the position due to a rebellion led by eight far-right members, none of whom were from Texas. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, the driving force behind the rebellion, announced his support for Scalise on Wednesday.


During the House Republican Conference meeting, members endorsed Scalise as their party's nominee for the House-wide speaker election with 113 votes, while Jordan received 99 votes. However, the eventual Republican candidate must secure 217 votes in the full House to assume the role.


Roy had proposed a rule during the meeting that would mandate a speaker candidate to garner at least 217 votes within the Republican conference before scheduling a House-wide vote, aiming to prevent the public discord seen during the January speaker race. Despite significant support for the rule, the conference voted to table the rule change on Wednesday morning.


Roy left the conference meeting visibly frustrated and, although he refrained from discussing the election as he exited the room, he later expressed his discontent on social media. He criticized the decision to call a vote at 3:00 PM after completing the conference vote at 1:30 PM, deeming it unacceptable. He committed to persist in voting against Scalise.


Following a meeting with Scalise on Wednesday night, Roy emphasized his anger at the rejection of his rule change, asserting that the party's unity would have been better served by its adoption. He refrained from disclosing if he would eventually support Scalise should further rule changes be considered, emphasizing that private discussions should remain undisclosed. He added that the conference is still resolving its internal differences in anticipation of the House-wide vote.


Cloud, too, voiced his concerns on social media, deeming it a "bad, bad idea" to proceed to a full-House vote with only "barely half the conference's support" for the leading candidate, especially considering the need for Congress to pass government funding legislation to avert a federal shutdown in about a month. He expressed his respect for Steve Scalise but criticized the rushed vote without full conference buy-in and indicated that he would not support the nomination on the floor without further discussion.


Leading up to the Wednesday meeting, the Texas delegation exhibited a divided stance in their support, with nearly equal numbers favoring the two leading candidates. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, known for their strong conservatism, generally aligned more with Jordan, who also enjoyed the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.


On the other hand, Scalise had the support of key McCarthy allies. His extensive experience and robust fundraising operation positioned him as the natural successor within the traditional ranks of the House Republican Conference.


Not everyone readily disclosed their preferences. Some members kept their votes confidential until the day of the election, while others indicated that either candidate would be acceptable, and they were waiting to see who could gather the most support to resolve the situation.


"For me, the most important thing is that the chosen candidate can secure the necessary votes to become the speaker. I'm not entirely certain who that person is," remarked U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Houston, who refrained from revealing his choice in the Wednesday party meeting.


Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Richmond, expressed a desire for greater efforts to unite the GOP behind a single candidate. Nehls had been a staunch supporter of Jordan, citing the endorsement from Trump. He had previously nominated Trump for the role of speaker, although that nomination effort quickly lost momentum.


"I think that's very difficult to accomplish right now. I think there should have been more dialogue," Nehls commented. "I just want to ensure that we don't repeat the spectacle we had in January and embarrass ourselves."


Nehls did not specify his preference for the House floor, suggesting that a third candidate, such as Trump or another McCarthy, could potentially unify the party.


Despite the differences in candidate support, there is a general lack of enthusiasm within the party for a protracted speaker battle, akin to the one in January. Unlike the previous scenario, where members voting against McCarthy sought specific changes to House rules, several Texas Republicans noted that there are minimal policy distinctions between the two candidates.


U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, expressed confidence that more members would eventually shift their allegiance to Scalise upon observing that he had the backing of the majority of Republicans.


"He'll be elected," Gooden asserted about Scalise. "I don't foresee the same disarray we experienced back in January."


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