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House speaker race widens to 9 Republicans vying for nomination

The U.S. Capitol is seen as the sun sets in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. House Republicans were no closer to finding a nominee to secure the speakership on Sunday, as nine candidates tossed their hat in the race for the top post.
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The U.S. Capitol is seen as the sun sets in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. House Republicans were no closer to finding a nominee to secure the speakership on Sunday, as nine candidates tossed their hat in the race for the top post.

After Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, failed in his bid to become speaker of the House, a new crop of candidates is jumping into the race.

Nine Republican representatives announced their intention to seek their conference's nomination for the top job ahead of the Sunday deadline: Jack Bergman of Michigan, Byron Donalds of Florida, Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Austin Scott of Georgia and Pete Sessions of Texas.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker earlier this month, following an uprising by far-right members of his own party. The unprecedented move left the House without a replacement, plunging the lower chamber into legislative paralysis with no clear path forward.

As underscored by McCarthy's unseating and the two unsuccessful campaigns for the gavel that followed, the House Republican conference remains deeply divided. In all three voting rounds to elect Rep. Jordan, the list of Republicans voting against the far-right Ohioan only grew. Before him, Republican Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise failed to garner enough support.

A forum for the contenders will be held on Monday; the vote to narrow down the list of candidates is scheduled for Tuesday.

This time, a new tool has been added into the mix to ensure the speaker designate, the candidate elected in the initial Tuesday vote, can rally 217 "yeas" on the House floor — the stage that sank previous nominees. Republicans currently have 221 members in the House; Democrats have 212.

Rep. Mike Flood of Nebraskaintroduced a "unity pledge" on Friday, which seeks the commitment of Republicans "to support the Speaker Designate elected by the House Republican Conference — regardless of who that candidate is — when their election proceeds to the House Floor."

"I'm urging all my colleagues to join this pledge so we can move forward with electing a Speaker and get on with the people's business," Flood said in a statement.

The majority of speaker contenders have signaled their support for the pledge, with at least six of them signing the commitment.

NPR's Claudia Grisales contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emma Bowman
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