What to know about Rep. Jim Jordan, House Republicans' nominee for speaker
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
House Republicans have nominated Ohio Republican Jim Jordan to serve as the next speaker of the House. In recent years, he has become a significant force in the party. Now he says he is picking up the support he needs to win the job.
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JIM JORDAN: I feel real good about the momentum we have, and I think we're real close. The vote is going to be tomorrow.
KELLY: That is Jordan talking to CNN today. NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins me now. Hey, there.
DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Hey, there.
KELLY: Hey, there. So Jordan's sounding pretty confident. But for those of us watching the speaker's race closely, this is not our first rodeo. Does it actually look like he will be elected tomorrow?
WALSH: He could. It's going to be close. I mean, he needs 217 votes if all 221 House Republicans show up and vote on the House floor. Jordan won the nomination inside the House Republican Conference on Friday, but he did face some stiff resistance from some of his colleagues. He's been meeting one-on-one with them. His allies have really been waging a very public campaign to support him on social media, on conservative news outlets. Those allies emphasized that president - former President Donald Trump endorsed Jordan. He's very popular with the GOP base. One big factor to think about in terms of tomorrow's vote is that it's a public roll call vote, unlike the secret ballot that happened on Friday. And if he doesn't win on the first ballot, we could see multiple ballots.
KELLY: Yeah, like we saw earlier in the year. OK, so I'm thinking about Jim Jordan's trajectory. Jordan started out as an outsider. He is now on the verge, maybe, of being second in line to the president. How'd he get here?
WALSH: I mean, it's a really dramatic political arc over the last 15 years. Jordan was really considered to be sort of the far-right of the Republican conference. Now he's really a barometer of where the party is. He was elected in 2006 after serving as a state legislator. When he came to Congress, he became immediately critical of his own leadership, arguing they weren't conservative enough. He clashed repeatedly with then-Speaker John Boehner. He was part of a group pushing to defund Obamacare back in 2013, and that fight led to a government shutdown. In 2015, Jordan was one of the co-founders of the House Freedom Caucus, a far-right group. That group ended up driving Boehner out as speaker that year.
KELLY: I remember. You mentioned Trump's endorsement of Jordan. What is the relationship between those two these days?
WALSH: Trump and Jordan are pretty close. I mean, Jordan really gained a national profile when he became the leading voice defending Trump in the first impeachment inquiry back in 2019, 2020. In terms of the 2020 election, Jim Jordan was part of a group of House Republicans that were in touch with the White House discussing this plan to block certification of the electoral votes in some of those key states on January 6. There's a lot of evidence about his role in that plot in the select January 6 committee's report. Jordan actually spoke to then-President Trump on January 6. He was subpoenaed by the select committee, but he never cooperated with that committee. House Democrats argue if he's elected speaker, Jordan could be a threat to democracy.
KELLY: And just quickly, speak to the issues, Deirdre - things like aid to Ukraine or Israel or avoiding a shutdown. Where is Jim Jordan on the issues that are going to face the next speaker?
WALSH: Well, Jordan has voted repeatedly against sending more money to Ukraine. House Republicans are sort of split down the middle on that issue. He does back an aid package for Israel. He says that would be a top priority if he gets the gavel. In terms of funding the government, whoever the next speaker is has this November 17 deadline to avoid a shutdown. So if it's Jordan, he's going to have to negotiate with Democrats to get a bill through. That's quite a turnaround from someone who usually has been attacking those deals.
KELLY: NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thank you.
WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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