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CNN Live Event/Special
Soon: Speaker Vote In Pivotal Moment For Jordan; Jordan Could Start To Lose Support If He Doesn't Secure Speakership Quickly. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired October 17, 2023 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Simply from just a governing perspective. I think he's passed almost nothing, if anything at all. Almost nothing has been signed into law.
And he's a true believer. Dana, that the other side, the Democrats are evil. He doesn't say that metaphorically. He truly believes that you have to defeat the Democrats or the Liberals by any means necessary. And they're close to giving him the speaker's gavel. This is a very worrisome thing for our country.
And look, it only takes four or five Republican members of the House of Representatives to be heroes and literally change the future of this country and this world. When you look at Ukraine and you look at Israel, he would be terrible on both.
And why somebody, Dana, like Mike Rogers, who was very clearly, I will never vote for Jim Jordan and collapse just 12 hours later in a heap of Jim Jordan support, why he didn't at least get Jim Jordan to agree to bring Ukraine aid to the floor?
It's like these guys have all the leverage in the world. And the idea that Fox News' Hannity -- Sean Hannity's booker reached out to them, now they're all scared to death. But I think there are enough to deny Jordan on the first round. My personal hope is they stick it out.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Well, my reporting, and certainly that of our Hill team, is that a lot of these Moderates who you were alluding to this, don't usually hear from some Conservatives, not only in conservative media, but those who help raise money and have voices, influencers, if you will. And they are worried about a primary and losing a primary, never mind the long term general election, particularly swing district Republicans like you were. So what's your message to them?
KINZINGER: Can I just say, as somebody that has been -- I have faced this and I had to make a decision to basically end my career to do the right thing, It's well worth know. Like you get -- you know, everybody goes into Congress saying, I'm going to go in and do the right thing. I am going to stand alone if I need to.
And then all of a sudden that fear of a primary is enough to frighten them away. This is as almost big in my mind of a moment, as standing up against January 6 was for these members. Listen, the job of Congress pays $174,000 a year. It's not a terrible salary. You've got to travel all the time. It's actually really hard.
The idea that it's the best job in the world and you have to actually sell out what you believe to keep it, it's just fear. It's fear paralyzing members of Congress. And if you're somebody that gets paralyzed by fear, fear of a frigging (ph) primary, then you probably should find a different line of work because we need brave people in the House of Representatives.
BASH: Congressman --
KINZINGER: -- look, you know, I'm trying to put on my analyst hat here a little bit, but at the same time, emotionally, I'm so invested in this because Jim Jordan, I truly believe, would be the worst pick for speaker of the House, of anybody in the House of Representatives, maybe, except, like, Matt Gaetz.
BASH: Wow. It's a big statement. Adam Kinzinger, thank you so much. Don't go anywhere. We're going to certainly get back to you as the day goes on.
Please don't go anywhere. We are looking at the House floor. House members are gathering in order to have a vote very soon on the next speaker of the House of Representatives? Will it be Jim Jordan? Stay with us.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage. You're looking at the floor of the House of Representatives. We're waiting for a roll call vote to wrap up. Right now, they're just doing this as kind of those -- it's like an attendance.
They're trying to see how many Democrats are there, how many Republicans are there, trying to suss out who just exactly did show up today so they can suss out what is the magic number Congressman Jim Jordan will need in order to clinch the speakership. Will it be 217 votes? Will it be 216 votes?
Once they figure out who's there, they finish up. Then we expect to see the beginning of the nominating speeches. We just learned minutes ago that Congresswoman Elise Stefanik will be the one who will enter Congressman Jim Jordan's name into nomination as the speaker.
CNN's Melanie Zanona is live for us on Capitol Hill. Melanie, right now we do not expect that Congressman Jim Jordan will win on the first ballot. I mean, anything could happen, who knows. But if those six holdouts, remain holdouts, what happens next do you think on the second ballot he will pick up votes? MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, that is Jim Jordan's hope and he is vowing to continue fighting this thing out on the floor and going as many rounds as it takes. But Jake, there is a potential risk here for Jim Jordan and that is that some of his supporters have not committed to voting for him on multiple rounds of ballots like they did for Kevin McCarthy back in January.
Rep. Garcia, he told me that we'll see and if he's, you know, at a breaking point and there's not making progress that people are going to start to peel off at some point. And then there's French Hill. He's another McCarthy ally. He was also non-committal when I asked him if he would continue backing Jordan through multiple rounds of voting.
So that signals to me that some of Jim Jordan's support is soft and that he is at risk of bleeding some supporters the longer that this thing drags on. But I can tell you that Jim Jordan's camp is confident that if he can at least get as many supporters as Kevin McCarthy did on his first round, which was 201 Republicans, that he will be in good shape to grind down the rest of his opposition on the House floor, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes. One -- it worked that way for McCarthy, but for Steve Scalise behind closed doors, it actually worked the other way. The longer the counting went, the more votes eroded.
ZANONA: Yes. And that's exactly right. And you have other people who are only backing Jordan very tepidly. They say we're getting behind him because he's the nominee. We'll give him a shot, but it's unclear how long they're going to give him on the House floor.
He does not have a lot of diehard supporters in the Moderate, more centrist wing of the party. They just want to be team players. But if it's looking like he's starting to lose support or that things are not going anywhere from Jim Jordan, you could certainly see some of them start to jump ship, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Melanie Zanona, thanks so much.
CNN's Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill. Manu, you have some breaking news. What's up?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I just talked to a member who was on the House floor and he told me that there's an urgent discussion happening right now on the House floor to try to get those holdouts. Those members were expected to vote against Jim Jordan and have them vote present on the floor, not for a candidate, but vote present.
And why will that help? Because that could lower the threshold that Jordan ultimately will need to become speaker. The way that votes go down right now is that they consider a majority -- the victor of this election will be who a majority of those who are voting for a specific candidate. Now, if someone votes present, that lowers the threshold. So, if there's the right balance of members who vote present, perhaps that can help Jordan ultimately become elected here. And this is one reason why this vote has been held open for so long. This simple call of the House being held open.
REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R), SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE: On this roll call --
RAJU: Let's hear, let's listen to it, Jake.
MCHENRY: 32 members have recorded their presence. The next order of business is the election of speakers of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress. Nominations are now in order. The chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from New York, Ms. Stefanik.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R), NEW YORK: Mr. Speaker Pro Temp, Madam Clerk, colleagues, on behalf of the House Republican Conference, I rise today to nominate the gentleman from Ohio, Jim Jordan, as Speaker of the People's House.
We are at a time of great crisis across America. A time of historic challenges in this very chamber. And a time when heinous acts of terror and evil have been committed against our great ally, Israel. As this body convenes for the sacred responsibility to elect the next speaker of the People's House, I am reminded of the Book of Esther, "For such a time is this".
Jim Jordan will be America's speaker for such a time as this. A time when hard working American families are struggling under the vice of inflation. Not able to afford groceries, heat or gas because of the trillions and trillions of dollars of reckless spending by failed far left government.
A time when millions are being illegally trafficked and smuggled across our Southern and Northern borders due to the catastrophic and inhumane, wide open borders of Joe Biden. A time when violent crime is skyrocketing across America, destroying our great cities, suburbs, and small towns, where people no longer feel safe in their homes or in their communities.
A time when American energy production has been crushed by Joe Biden's radical, failed far left policies, causing seniors, farmers, and families to pay more at the pump and struggle with skyrocketing utility bills. A time when the federal government is weaponized against we, the people, who they are supposed to serve, stripping us of our God given constitutional rights and wrongfully targeting Conservatives, Catholics, and even parents at school board meetings.
And a time when the people of our closest and most precious ally, Israel, suffered the bloodiest day since the Holocaust, with acts of inhumane evil committed by Hamas terrorists backed by Iran, grotesque atrocities, the beheadings of babies, rapes, kidnappings, and slaughter of women, children, and the elderly, and Israelis and Americans taken hostage. We are here in this very chamber for such a time as this. Jim Jordan will be we, the people, speaker for such a time as this. Our friend and colleague Jim Jordan is a patriot. He is an America first warrior who wins the toughest of fights.
Going after corruption and delivering accountability at the highest levels of government on behalf of, we, the people. Jim is the voice of the American people who have felt voiceless for far too long. Whether as judiciary chair, conservative leader, or representative for his constituents in West Central Ohio, whether on the wrestling mat or in the committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough, and principled.
He is a mentor, a worker, and above all, he is a fighter, and the American people know, we know, that Jim Jordan is a winner on behalf of the American people. Almost 10 years ago, many of us sat with our colleague Jim Jordan in this very chamber when Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered his historic joint address, which some of our colleagues across the aisle shamefully boycotted.
Bibi pointed out that in this very chamber, we serve under the watchful gaze of Moses. He said, quote, "Overlooking all of us in this chamber is the image of Moses. And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them".
He went on to say, "My friends, may Israel and America always stand together strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength, and hope", end quote.
On behalf of the American people, let's face the future with confidence, strength, and hope. Let's elect Jim Jordan, our speaker of the People's House, for such a time as this.
And I yield back.
MCHENRY: Gentlewoman yields back. The chair now recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Aguilar.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Speaker Pro Tem, with great respect for this institution, as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, I am directed by the vote of that caucus to present for election to the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives the name of the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, the Pride of Crown Heights, a representative from the state of New York.
Mr. Speaker Pro Tem, this is not the history we wanted to make here in the House. It's something that none of us imagined when we were sworn in to this office. We are here because the House has been thrown into chaos. We are here because this hallowed chamber has been led to a breaking point by two dangerous forces, extremism and partisanship. The American people place their faith in us to tackle their most pressing issues, lowering costs, growing the middle class, and standing up to those set on delivering a national abortion ban. The choice before us is simple, come together on a bipartisan path forward, or take us over the cliff. Abandon the extremism that is preventing us from getting things done or triple down on division and dysfunction.
A vote today to make the architect of a nationwide abortion ban, a vocal election denier, and an insurrection insider to the Speaker of this House would be a terrible message to the country and our allies.
Mr. Speaker, it would send an even more troubling message to our enemies, that the very people who would seek to undermine democracy are rewarded with positions of immense power. We are talking about someone who has spent his entire career trying to hold our country back. Putting our national security in danger, attempting government shutdown after government shutdown.
Wasting taxpayer dollars on baseless investigations with dead ends. Authoring the very bill that would ban abortion nationwide without exceptions. And inciting violence on this chamber. Even leaders of his own party have called him a legislative terrorist.
He once said, quote, "I didn't come to Congress to make more laws". His words speak for themselves.
When New Yorkers recovering from Hurricane Sandy needed Congress to act, he said no. When wildfires ravaged the West, destroying homes and businesses, and those residents needed disaster assistance, he said no. When the Mississippi River floods devastated the South and communities across state lines, needed Congress to act, he said no.
When our veterans were suffering from disease and dying as a result of their service to our country and Congress passed a bipartisan solution, he said no. When our ally in Ukraine looked to Congress for additional support to help defeat Putin, he said no. And just before Hamas' brutal terrorist attack on Israel, he said no to fully funding military aid for our ally.
This body is debating elevating a speaker nominee who has not passed a single bill in 16 years. These are not the actions of someone interested in governing or bettering the lives of everyday Americans. This is nothing less than the rejection of the oath that we swore to uphold as duly elected members of this body.
But, on this side of the aisle, and throughout this chamber, I'm convinced our oath still matters. To fulfill our obligations to the American people, we have no choice today but to vote for a leader of both character and conviction. When the Congress first began, he proudly -- we proudly stood next to him as our leader and made a promise to every American.
House Democrats would work to find common ground on the issues that matter most to the American people whenever possible. That would -- that we would stand up to extremism whenever necessary. Only Hakeem Jeffries can be trusted to keep his word. Only Hakeem Jeffries can lead us out of the chaos and towards a path of governance.
It brings me immense pride to nominate our friend, the Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries, as speaker.
He's almost -- I'm not done yet.
ALL: Hakeem! Hakeem! Hakeem! Hakeem!
AGUILAR: He may just be the candidate with the most votes, but he is also the candidate with the most credibility. If the goal is to continue a 30-year march to hollow out our democratic institutions, weaken our democracy, and embolden extremists, there's a candidate for you.
If the goal is to continue taking marching orders from a twice impeached former president with more than 90 pending felony charges, then there is a candidate for you. The world is watching, Mr. Speaker Pro Tem. Our allies in Ukraine, in Israel are watching and waiting.
So let's have this vote, but let's be clear, a vote for the gentleman from Ohio is a vote to turn your back on national security. It's a vote to turn your back on a bipartisan path to fund the government and avoid shutdowns. Something we can only do if we reject his nomination.
House Democrats are in the minority, we realize that. If House Republicans wanted to elect a speaker without us, then they could have. There is still a path forward for both Democrats and Republicans to come together to elect a speaker who can unite us behind a common purpose.
Keeping the government open on a bipartisan compromise that won more than 300 votes just four months ago in this chamber. Taking up an up or down vote on help so Israel can defeat Hamas and Ukraine can defeat Putin. And reassuring the American people that their legislators have their backs.
It's that simple, Mr. Speaker, and we can do it today. Let's work together, let's elect a speaker who will reach out a hand of bipartisanship, and deliver for the American people. That is why, once again, Mr. Speaker Pro Tem, I'm proud to nominate Hakeem Jeffries for speaker. And yield back.
MCHENRY: The gentleman yields back. The gentleman yields back. The name -- the names of the Honorable Jim Jordan, a representative from the state of Ohio and the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, a representative from the state of New York, have been placed in nomination. Are there further nominations?
There being no further nominations, the chair appoints the following tellers. The gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Steil. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Morelle. The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Loudermilk. The gentlewoman from Alabama, Ms. Sewell. The tellers will come forward and take their seats at the desk in front of the speaker's rostrum.
TAPPER: OK, we are waiting for a roll call vote to begin. We will be dropping in and out to look at key votes of House Republicans that we are watching. Remember, we believe that Congressman Jim Jordan can only afford to lose three House Republicans, any more than that, and he will be denied the speakership on this first vote.
We will have the roll call vote begin any moment. We will dip into the voting pretty quickly with Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska, who is a no vote on Jordan, he has said, and represents a district that President Biden won, a swing district in Omaha, Nebraska. And he has said he doesn't want to reward the hardliners who have created this mess to begin with.
He has said he's going to vote for former Speaker McCarthy on the first one at a time, but that can be a no vote. That will come fairly early.
John King, what are you going to be looking for?
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: To see if they vote no, or if they vote present. The first thing is, is there some tweaking of the math, if you will? Some arm twisting that has convinced people to stay in their office and not vote, or to come to the floor and vote present.
So, as you mentioned, we get two pretty quick out of the box -- Bacon and Buck. Two very different men. Bacon has to run in a very competitive district, as you said, carried by Biden. He's a conservative, but he's more of a centrist conservative. Ken Buck came to Congress as a Tea Party guy.
And yet, what are they both? They're both principled men. Who know that Joe Biden won the last election and who are governing Conservatives. They're governing Conservatives who want to do stuff. They want to argue, they want to debate, but they want to do stuff. And they're tired of what they consider the clown car show in their caucus.
The question is, you know, can Jim Jordan -- his colleagues keep using the term bully. Can he tell people that we need to have a speaker by the end of today, so give it up. And we'll know if they give it up if they vote present instead of no.
TAPPER: Yes, it's not even about Moderates versus Conservatives anymore, right? It's about people who are willing to go along with the election line, people who aren't. Don Bacon is a very conservative Republican.
TAPPER: But he's just not willing to lie about the election, Casey.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Jake, I think we should kind of take a --
TAPPER: Wait, let's listen in, I'm sorry. MCHENRY: House come to order.
The roll will now be called, and those responding to their names will indicate by surname the nominee of their choosing. The reading clerk will now call the roll.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Adams?
REP. ALMA ADAMS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Hakeem Jeffries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeffries. Aderholt?
REP. ROBERT ADERHOLT (R), ALABAMA: Jim Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Aguilar?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeffries. Alford?
REP. MARK ALFORD (R), MISSOURI: Jim Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Allen?
REP. RICK ALLEN (R), GIORGIA: Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Allred?
REP. COLIN ALLRED (D), TEXAS: Hakeem Jeffries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeffries. Amodei?
REP. MARK AMODEI (R), NEVADA: Jordan,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Armstrong?
REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R), NORTH DAKOTA: Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Arrington?
REP. JODEY ARRINGTON (R), TEXAS: Jim Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Auchincloss?
REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Jeffries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeffries. Babin?
REP. BRIAN BABIN (R), TEXAS: Jim Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan. Bacon?
REP. DON BACON (R), NEBRASKA: McCarthy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy.