Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, says a deal “will have to be done” with Democrats to choose a new House speaker if Republicans are unable to elect someone on their own after Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the position this month.
In an interview Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Turner was asked whether he could envision a scenario in which Republicans could work with Democrats to find a “mutually acceptable speaker.”
Turner, who chairs the Intelligence Committee, said that although he would “prefer there to be a Republican solution” and believes Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, would be an “excellent speaker,” the path to electing someone could come down to Republicans’ reaching across the aisle to make it happen.
“I think he’ll be able to get to 217,” Turner said of Jordan. “If not, we have other leaders in the House. And certainly, if there is a need, if the radical, you know, almost just handful of people in the Republican side … to make it for us unable to be able to return to general work on the House, then I think, obviously, there will be a deal that will have to be done.”
The threats from Turner and other Republicans of a coalition speaker appear designed to pressure GOP holdouts into backing their nominee. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that there have been no serious discussions about that prospect and that Democrats would demand rules changes to elevate bipartisan bills.
“We want to ensure that votes are taken on bills that have substantial Democratic support and substantial Republican support so that the extremists aren’t able to dictate the agenda,” Jeffries said.
Jordan’s allies have used aggressive tactics to try to corral the votes to elect him speaker, seeing a potential floor vote as a mechanism to pressure centrists or politically vulnerable Republicans. That could happen as early as Tuesday.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., an early opponent of Jordan’s speakership bid who became the subject of intense criticism from the right, switched to “yes” after he said he has had “two cordial, thoughtful and productive conversations over the past two days” about advancing spending, defense and farm bills.
“As a result, I have decided to support Jim Jordan for Speaker of the House on the floor,” Rogers said on X, adding that he has “always been a team player” for his party.
The House voted by a slim six-vote margin to oust McCarthy, R-Calif., when a handful of conservatives joined Democrats to remove him. It was the first time in U.S. history that a speaker of the House had been ousted.
Republicans nominated Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., for the speakership in a secret ballot vote last week, defeating Jordan by a vote of 113-99. Scalise dropped his bid the next day after it became clear that he would not be able to get the votes to be elected.
On a second try, Jordan won the GOP nomination in a 124-81 vote, defeating Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. It is unclear, however, whether Jordan can secure the 217 votes needed on the House floor.
Democrats in recent days have ratcheted up their rhetoric against Jordan, an outspoken Trump ally, whom they cast as an insurrectionist, an election denier and an extremist.
“House Republicans have selected as their nominee to be the speaker of the people’s House the chairman of the chaos caucus, a defender in a dangerous way of dysfunction, and an extremist extraordinaire,” Jeffries said Friday on the steps of the Capitol, flanked by dozens of Democratic lawmakers. “His focus has been on peddling lies and conspiracy theories and driving division amongst the American people.”
House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., raised red flags about Jordan’s role in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, saying, “Every Republican who cast their vote for him is siding with an insurrectionist against our democracy.”
Some moderate Democrats have expressed a willingness to enhance the powers of temporary Speaker Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., in the interim. In a letter to McHenry last week, centrist Democrats Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Susie Lee of Nevada, Ed Case of Hawaii and Jared Golden of Maine supported empowering McHenry in 15-day increments to allow the House to conduct business.
But the idea faces internal resistance, as many Republicans are opposed to the idea of enhancing McHenry’s powers.
The House adjourned for the weekend after Jordan was nominated for speaker. A second ballot asking members whether they could back Jordan on the House floor fell short of the 217 votes he needs to secure the job, with 152 lawmakers voting in favor and 55 opposed.
Summer Concepcion is a politics reporter for NBC News.
Sahil Kapur is a senior national political reporter for NBC News.