Cong. Womack undecided on Speaker candidate, hopes for resolution this week
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, isn’t hiding his frustration from more than two weeks of a Speaker-less House of Representatives.
“We are a fractured, stubborn, divided bunch right now,” said Womack, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics and Capitol View. “There are hard feelings, lot of open wounds. So, who is that individual that’s going to be able to get everybody to coalesce around them? I’m going to predict to you that maybe none of them. And if that happens, then we’ll either be stuck in neutral again, spinning our wheels.”
Womack was one of about two dozen Republicans who opposed U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the controversial leader of the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan failed three times to secure the votes for Speaker, and late Friday, his bid fell more than 100 votes short of 217 to secure the speakership.
Womack said his opposition to Jordan was on multiple levels.
“First of all, there are certain skill sets and qualities that I think a person has to have to be the Speaker of the House, and I thought he fell short of a lot of those. His persona is polarizing and he’s kind of a known attack dog sort of guy in the Judiciary Committee. And as a Speaker of the House, you’ve got to have some statesmanship ability, you’re going to have to work in divided government with all sides. I mean, you’re the Speaker of the whole House. And I just think that his qualities, his persona kind of fell short of that,” Womack said.
“That was not enough necessarily to stop him in his tracks,” he added. “We had a vote the week before, when the majority leader stepped up to the plate, Steve Scalise, and said, ‘I’m going to run for Speaker,’ and actually beat Jim Jordan in our private conference for Speaker of the House. He became our Speaker-designee. And then Jim did something that I told him I could not forgive him for. He went to the microphone, all of us expecting him to say, ‘Hey, I came up short. Steve’s our nominee, I’m going to throw my support behind him. Let’s go to the floor, and get him elected.’ That’s not what he did. He stepped up to the microphone and he qualified his endorsement by saying, ‘If Steve Scalise can prove that he can get 217 votes in this conference, then I’ll support him.’ And you and I both know that was not going to happen. And it’s probably not going to happen next week with whomever we nominate.”
Womack said every member of the House “looks in the mirror every morning and sees the next Speaker of the House right now” but he does not know who the designee may be. He does predict it will be a Republican, not a Democrat that somehow collects a handful of GOP votes.
“At some point in time, we’ve got to elect a Speaker. And when we do, it will be a Republican speaker, it will be a conservative person, it will be somebody who can work kind of both sides of the aisle and deal with divided government. We are going to do that. We’re not going to elect Hakeem Jeffries. So people, just don’t think that’s an outcome that’s possible. It’s just not going to happen. We will elect a Republican speaker, and I’d like to do it Tuesday or Wednesday, and not a week later.”
There is a Sunday noon deadline for potential candidates to offer their names for Speaker of the House. So far, announced candidates or those strongly considering a bid include:
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn.
Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana
Rep. Jody Arrington, R-Texas
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Florida
Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan
Rep. Austin Scott, R-Georgia
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa.
You can watch Womack’s full interview in the video below.