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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

House GOP hasn’t hit bottom yet, keeps digging

Welcome to Day 17 of “The House With No Speaker.”

Let’s start with this: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the GOP’s speaker designee, will hold a press conference at 8 a.m. today in the Capitol. We’re told this event will be an attempt by Jordan to rally support and make a case for his flailing bid to be speaker.

The House is then scheduled to begin the third roll-call vote on Jordan’s speaker candidacy at 10 a.m. Twenty Republicans voted against Jordan for speaker on the floor Tuesday. That number grew to 22 on Wednesday. Senior Republicans predict it may be even worse today.

In short, things are bleak right now for House Republicans. But as we’ve been warned repeatedly in recent days, Republicans still haven’t reached the bottom yet. We’re not sure when that will happen after yesterday.

Let’s review where things stand.

No Republican can get 217 votes to be speaker. Some GOP lawmakers, their aides and spouses have been besieged with death threats after voting against Jordan, but the Ohio Republican — while decrying this intimidation — keeps insisting on more votes while his allies use right-wing media to pressure holdouts.

During a closed-door session on Thursday, Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry threatened to quit if any GOP lawmaker tries to pass legislation during his very restricted reign, our friends Scott Wong and Rebecca Kaplan of NBC News reported. Tensions are running high inside the House Republican Conference, with yelling matches breaking out and members blocking each other on social media. Some Republicans warned Jordan in front of colleagues that they can’t keep voting for him if he can’t win. More than a half-dozen Republicans are considering quixotic speaker bids of their own.

The chamber is in the midst of one of the most significant institutional crises we’ve seen in several decades of covering Congress.

And to add insult to injury, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), one of Jordan’s closest allies, warned that the Ohio Republican intends to keep calling floor votes on his speaker bid throughout the weekend if necessary.

Whether Jordan really carries through with the threat is unclear. It would mark a dramatic reversal for the 59-year-old veteran pol.

On Thursday morning, Jordan was the leading advocate inside the four-hour GOP conference meeting for a plan by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) to elect McHenry to his post on a temporary basis. That would’ve allowed the House to get back to work until early January.

Jordan did this in part because it was clear that he didn’t have the votes to become speaker. The additional time could help Jordan win over his opponents while freezing potential rivals in place.

But there was a strong backlash against that plan inside the heated Republican conference meeting, so electing McHenry has been shelved for now. Joyce still may introduce it in the coming days. But for now, this strategy shift meant the end of a potential off-ramp for Republicans. Now no one is quite sure how GOP leaders will get themselves out of this mess.

Instead, Jordan held a closed-door meeting with a number of his Republican opponents in a bid to win them over.

But Jordan was told repeatedly by these members that they won’t vote for him under any circumstances. One lawmaker who attended the meeting said Jordan couldn’t have come away thinking he had a prayer of becoming speaker. Another told us Jordan is “torching” any chance he had to be a member of leadership in the future.

So what’s left? What’s the next move? While Jordan tries to push ahead on the floor, some Republicans have begun floating House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington of Texas as a candidate, but he can’t win either. Rep. Mike Gallagher (Wis.) said he’s not interested in being speaker. Others have suggested RSC Chair Kevin Hern of Oklahoma. Rep. Jack Bergman (Mich.) has said he may look at a bid.

But we’ll repeat this once again — none of these members can get to 217.

So the House will continue in this state of paralysis until Republicans elect a speaker of their own or cut a deal with Democrats on a speaker pro tem.

— Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.