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Jim Jordan, the hardline Republican congressman from Ohio, vowed to press ahead with his struggling bid to be Speaker of the House of Representatives ahead of a vote planned for Friday morning.
Jordan told reporters that the House needed a Speaker “as soon as possible so we can help the American people”, in a press conference during which he defied calls to bow out of the race.
Jordan, a close ally of Donald Trump who has questioned his defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, has faced opposition from more than 20 Republicans in his speakership bid, along with all Democrats.
He already lost two votes in his attempt to win the speakership, and there was little sign that he was succeeding in his effort to win over the remaining holdouts.
Republican opponents have criticised him for failing to recognise the 2020 election results but also balked at the heavy-handed pressure campaign he launched to gain their support. Some received threats to their personal safety and that of their family members from rightwing activists after opposing Jordan’s bid.
The pivotal House Speaker role has been vacant since early this month when Kevin McCarthy was ousted by a group of eight firebrand conservatives.
The political vacuum comes as Biden has asked Congress for billions of dollars of new funding to help Israel and Ukraine — as well as border security and humanitarian assistance. But in the absence of a Speaker, no legislation can move through the House, which will prevent it from being approved.
Patrick McHenry, a Republican representative from North Carolina and chair of the House financial services committee, is serving as temporary Speaker, but without the powers to put any bills on the floor. A push by some Republicans to give him additional powers for a few months in order to advance legislation while the party sought a consensus candidate for Speaker failed earlier this week, adding more uncertainty to the US political scene.