Jordan, a loyalist of former President Donald Trump, failed to lobby well in his outreach to overcome a well-entrenched opposition from a widening group of Republican holdouts, some of whom claimed they received death threats for blocking his ascent to the gavel, The Guardian reported.
As the House of Representatives in the US Congress went speakerless for the 18th day in a row, Jordan, a founder of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and hard-core ally of Trump, who led the congressional effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, won 194 votes, well nigh of the majority needed to be elected speaker.
To be elected speaker, Jordan had to win 217 votes on the floor.
The Republican holdouts against Jordan swelled to 25 from Thursday’s 20 in a troubling sign for Jordan. Three more in the second vote and five more than in his first failed effort.
All Democrats rallied behind their party’s leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who received 210 votes. In the earlier round he got 200 votes, reports said.
Egged by supporters, Jordan indicated he was willing to plough through several more rounds of balloting, taking a page from his predecessor former Republican Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who took 15 rounds to claim the gavel.
Following the third vote on Friday, Republicans were planning to retreat again behind closed doors to chart their next steps and choose a new nominee, reports said.
Ousted speaker McCarthy, who nominated Jordan to succeed him, nodded his head to the chaos engulfing House Republicans.
“Being a speaker is not an easy job, especially in this conference,” he said, drawing some laughs in the chamber. But he urged the group he once led to set aside their objections and grievances and vote for Jordan: “I know he is ready for the job.”
Congresswoman Kathleen Clark, the No. 2 House Democrat, then nominated Jeffries to the speakership, warning that Jordan was a “true threat to our democracy and our constitution”.
“It is not too late for the majority to choose a bipartisan path forward to reopen the House,” she said.
The speaker’s chair has been vacant for a fortnight now since a group of hard-line Republicans ousted McCarthy at the beginning of October, a first in American history.
The House is virtually paralysed without a speaker unable to conduct legislative business as wars rage in Europe and the Middle East and the President’s bill to fund Israel and Ukraine for $100 billion in military and humanitarian gets stuck.
On top of this,a government shutdown looms large on November 17 when the 45-day extension to government funding to federal agencies granted by ousted speaker Kevin McCarthy expires in another 30 days.
The White House on Friday sent a sprawling package to Congress, requesting more than $105bn in funding to, among other things, aid Ukraine and Israel and address rising numbers of migrants entering the country without authorization at the US-Mexico border, media reports said.
Jordan attempted to rally his Republican National Conference behind him with remarks that placed his quest to win the speakership alongside American achievements like taking flight and landing on the moon.
“The fastest way to get to work for the American people is to elect a speaker so the House can be open and we can get things done,” Jordan said on Friday morning.
After three failed votes in which Jordan saw his opposition widen, additional rounds of balloting were not expected to break the impasse. A number of the holdouts have expressed their outrage at the hardball tactics employed by Jordan’s allies to win over their votes, which has devolved into harassing calls and even death threats against lawmakers and their families, media reports said.
“One thing I cannot stomach or support is a bully,” said a statement from the congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an Iowa Republican, who switched her vote against Jordan on a second ballot after receiving “credible death threats”.
Concerns about a Jordan speakership vary. Some fear his combative brand of politics will make it harder for Republicans to defend their House majority in the 2024 elections, while others believe the challenges facing the country and the world were too great to hand the gavel to a lawmaker one former Republican speaker branded a “legislative terrorist”.