- By Bernd Debussmann Jr
- BBC News, Washington
Republicans say they hope the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives will arrive soon after Monday’s internal party meeting.
Nearly three weeks after the former speaker’s ouster, America remains deadlocked and without the ability to pass laws.
It is not yet clear who the party will nominate for the post.
House Republicans heard from all eight new candidates in a closed-door forum Monday evening.
A secret ballot could be held as early as Tuesday morning, followed by a full House vote.
“I think we’ll have a speaker tomorrow night,” Congressman Dan Bacon said after Republicans held an evening meeting with all the candidates.
Last week, bewildered House Republicans removed Jim Jordan as the party’s nominee after three failed votes.
The previous nominee, Steve Scalise, abruptly withdrew on Oct. 13, a day after his party selected him.
The field narrowed slightly on Monday when Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania announced he was no longer a candidate, saying he had previously pledged to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Let’s look at the men running for office.
Tom Emmer of Minnesota
Tom Emmer, 62, is currently the House Majority Whip, making him the third most powerful Republican in the House.
A former college ice hockey player and coach, Mr. Emmer also previously served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which helps party candidates win elections across the United States.
However, Mr Emmer may have difficulties getting votes from right-wing Republicans and allies of former President Donald Trump, some of whom have criticized him for voting to certify the 2020 election results in favor of Joe Biden. Only two of the eight Republican Speaker candidates chose to do so.
Kevin Hearn of Oklahoma
Mr Hearn, 61, is a former aerospace engineer and businessman and has served in the House since 2018. He is now the chairman of the Republican Study Group, often considered a precursor to leadership positions within the party.
Congressional watchers have noted that while he has the conservative credentials needed to win over the party’s right wing, he is still considered a moderate choice compared to Jim Jordan.
The owner of several McDonald’s franchises, he served cheeseburgers to colleagues on Monday as part of his campaign.
Speaking to reporters after the closed-door meeting, he said support was growing for him. “I’m not in this to come second or to lose,” Mr Hearn said.
Austin Scott of Georgia
Mr Scott, 53, emerged as the speaker candidate last week with 81 votes in a closed poll against Mr Jordan. After the defeat, he supported Mr Jordan in all three rounds of polls.
He is considered close to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and described the right-wing rebels who ousted him as “nothing but grifters”.
Along with Mr. Emmer, Mr. Scott is the only Republican candidate not to oppose certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
Mike Johnson from Louisiana
Mr Johnson, 51, is a lawyer and former talk radio host who has served in the House since 2016. He is also a former chairman of the Republican National Intelligence Committee and is considered a close ally of Mr Jordan.
In 2020, Mr Johnson was seen as a key partner in the bid to challenge Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
In a letter to his colleagues, Mr Johnson vowed to “fight relentlessly for our core Conservative policies and principles”.
After Monday’s meeting, he told reporters that each of the candidates made a strong case.
“I think everybody’s singing to the same sheet of music,” he told NBC News.
“So it’s going to be a tough decision for the conference because we have great candidates and it’s an embarrassment of riches.”
Jack Bergman of Michigan
Now in his fourth term, Mr Bergman, 76, is a retired pilot and former lieutenant general of the Marine Corps. He currently chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations.
In a statement announcing his candidacy, Mr Bergman portrayed himself as a temporary option that could “steady the ship” and “win votes that others couldn’t”.
“The routine functioning of the central government cannot afford to wait for futile infighting and arguments,” he said.
After Monday’s caucus, he told reporters: “I feel the need to move forward because that’s what the American people want from us.”
Byron Donalds of Florida
A native New Yorker, Byron Donalds, 44, is a newcomer to the US Congress and has served since 2020, when he was elected by voters in his district on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Mr Donalds is considered a staunch supporter of Mr Trump and is a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus.
A darling of the party’s right wing, Mr Donalds had already won some support during the January speaker battle, which eventually saw Kevin McCarthy take the post.
The Beat Sessions of Texas
Mr. Sessions, 68, of Texas, is the longest-serving representative to throw his hat in the ring to become speaker.
Mr Sessions, a former employee of an AT&T subsidiary, was first elected to the House in 1996 and served until 2019, when he was ousted by a Democratic challenger. He contested in a neighboring district and returned to the Congress in 2021.
In Congress, he served as chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee and once chaired the Rules Committee, a powerful position with considerable influence over the introduction and process of legislation on Capitol Hill.
Gary Palmer of Alabama
Mr Palmer, 59, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 and has been chairman of the Republican Party’s policy committee since 2019. He now also serves on the House Oversight and Accountability and Energy and Commerce committees.
Before being elected, he co-founded the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank with the goal of “influencing public policy in the interest of free markets, limited government and the protection of strong families.”
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”