AP sources: Tom Emmer withdraws bid for House speaker hours after winning GOP nomination

Oct 24, 2023, 9:09 AM | Updated: 3:01 pm

us capitol...

Visitors near the US Capitol on October 2. The House speakership drama enters a new week under increased urgency as Israel declared war on October 8. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

(Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Tom Emmer abruptly abandoned his bid to become House speaker Tuesday, withdrawing hours after winning the internal party nomination once it became clear he would not have enough support from GOP colleagues for the gavel.

The House GOP whip, Emmer reversed course after Donald Trump objected to his nomination and hardliners in the House denied the party leader the votes he would need for the gavel. That’s according to Republican sources familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

He is the third Republican to fall short, leaving the Republicans no closer to resolving the chaos they have created since ousting Kevin McCarthy at the start of the month.

Emmer briskly left the building where he had been meeting privately with Republicans, and hopped into a waiting SUV. He said nothing in response to shouted questions as they drove off from the Capitol complex.

Dejected Republicans retreated behind closed doors, desperately searching for a way out of the chaos they have created.

Three weeks after Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy, throwing the House into turmoil, they appear no closer to ending the bitter infighting and choosing a new speaker who can credibly unite the GOP majority, lead the party and get the U.S. Congress working again.

“We’re in the same cul-de-sac,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.

Emmer of Minnesota, who is the party’s third-ranking Republican as the GOP whip, had jumped out in front during private morning balloting among a hodgepodge list of mostly lesser-known congressmen aspiring to be speaker, a powerful position second in line to the presidency.

But no sooner did Emmer win the majority vote of his colleagues than his nomination was shot down by a powerful detractor he had tried to win over — Trump, the Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential election, who has long criticized the party’s former campaign chief as disloyal.

While Emmer won a simple majority in a roll call behind closed doors — 117 votes — he lost more than two dozen Republicans, leaving him far short of what will be needed during a House floor tally ahead.

Trump, who has played an influential role tipping the tally in the speaker’s race, wrote on social media Tuesday that he has “many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House.” But Emmer, he said, “is not one of them” and it would be a ”mistake” to give him the gavel.

Others piled on in what was, in some ways, a do-over of the Trump-Emmer feud that has simmered since January, when the former president’s allies tried to stop Emmer’s rise to the GOP whip’s job.

“He doesn’t have the support in the room right now,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who had challenged Emmer at the start of the year. “We’ll see where we go from here.”

The House has been in turmoil since a contingent of hard-line Republicans ousted McCarthy, creating what’s now a governing crisis that’s preventing the normal operations of Congress. There appears to be no resolution within reach.

Coming in a steady second in the balloting was constitutional law expert Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who directly battled Emmer in the fifth round, picking up 97 votes. He ultimately announced his full support for his colleague.

“What we have to do in this room is unite and begin to govern again,” said Johnson.

Others were eliminated during multiple rounds of voting, including Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, a top Trump ally, and McDonald’s franchise owner Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, a conservative leader who plied his colleagues with hamburgers seeking their support. Reps. Austin Scott of Georgia, Jack Bergman of Michigan, Pete Sessions of Texas, Gary Palmer of Alabama and Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania also dropped out.

Having rejected the top replacements, Majority Leader Steve Scalise and the Trump-backed Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, there is no longer any obvious choice for the job.

With Republicans controlling the House 221-212 over Democrats, any GOP nominee can afford just a few detractors to win the gavel.

“It’s going to be another close race by the time we get to one,” said Rep, Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D. “I think it would behoove whoever wins this to stay in the room and figure where they are at and whether they can get there.”

Republicans have been flailing all month, unable to conduct routine business as they fight amongst themselves with daunting challenges ahead.

The federal government risks a shutdown in a matter of weeks if Congress fails to pass funding legislation by a Nov. 17 deadline to keep services and offices running. More immediately, President Joe Biden has asked Congress to provide $105 billion in aid — to help Israel and Ukraine amid their wars and to shore up the U.S. border with Mexico. Federal aviation and farming programs face expiration without action.

Those running for speaker were mostly conservatives and election deniers, who either voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results, when Biden defeated Trump, in the runup to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, or joined a subsequent lawsuit challenging the results.

Some Democrats had eyed Emmer, who had voted to certify the 2020 election results, as a potential partner in governing the House.

But Trump allies, including the influential hard-right instigator Steve Bannon, have been critical of Emmer. Some point to his support of a same-sex marriage initiative and perceived criticisms of the former president. Among the far-right groups pressuring lawmakers over the speaker’s vote, some quickly attacked Emmer.

“That’s a very divisive issue,” said Republican Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia, saying he could never vote for Emmer because of his voting record on marriage.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, the hard-right leader who engineered McCarthy’s ouster, has said several of those who were running — Hern, Donalds or Johnson — would make a “phenomenal” choice for speaker.

Nevertheless, Gaetz voted for Emmer, though others who joined in ousting McCarthy did not.

Many Emmer opponents were resisting a leader who voted for the budget deal that McCarthy struck with Biden earlier this year, which set federal spending levels that far-right Republicans don’t agree with and now want to undo. They are pursuing steeper cuts to federal programs and services with next month’s funding deadline.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said she wanted assurances the candidates would pursue impeachment inquiries into Biden and other top Cabinet officials.

During the turmoil, the House is now led by a nominal interim speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the bow tie-wearing chairman of the Financial Services Committee. His main job is to elect a more permanent speaker.

Some Republicans — and Democrats — would like to simply give McHenry more power to get on with the routine business of governing. But McHenry, the first person to be in the position that was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as an emergency measure, has declined to back those overtures.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson...

Daniel Woodruff

New Utah school safety law earns praise from victims’ families, but cost concerns persist

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson ceremonially signed HB84 into law during an event Wednesday at the University of Utah.

5 hours ago

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S, Oksana Markarova, speaking with different Utah leaders while visit...


Ambassador of Ukraine to U.S. meets with Utah state and church leaders

For the first time, Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, paid Utah a visit. It’s a connection that’s been years in the making.

7 hours ago

former slc mayor ted wilson...

Tammy Kikuchi

Former SLC Mayor Ted Wilson dies at 84

Ted Wilson served as the mayor of Salt Lake City in the 70s and 80s.

22 hours ago

speaker of the house mike johnson shown,...


Bill to reauthorize key US spy tool blocked by conservative revolt

The breakdown comes months after a similar process to reform and reauthorize the surveillance program fell apart before it even reached the House floor.

23 hours ago


Curt Gresseth

New Utah law targets auto-renewal subscriptions

A new Utah law says companies now have between 30 and 60 days to notify subscribers of their upcoming automatic renewal.

2 days ago

celeste maloy, the newest member of congress...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Rep. Celeste Maloy visits Jerusalem amid Israel-Hamas war

Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, reaffirmed support for Israel after visiting Jerusalem last week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said "victory is within reach."

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

AP sources: Tom Emmer withdraws bid for House speaker hours after winning GOP nomination