Rep. Tom Emmer speaks with reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 27, 2023.
House Republicans are once again scrambling for a path forward after Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer dropped his bid for speaker just hours after winning his party’s nomination.
The swift exit from the race is the latest sign that Republicans are still no closer to electing a new speaker three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster.
Republicans are now gearing up to hold another speaker candidate forum Tuesday evening, multiple members told CNN. There are six candidates in the running following Emmer’s abrupt withdrawal from the race: Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida, Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, Mark Green also of Tennessee, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Roger Williams of Texas.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, told reporters he believes they will try to vote to pick a new nominee right after the forum.
The House remains in a state of paralysis, and Republicans remain unable to govern as the conference has repeatedly failed to coalesce around a successor to McCarthy amid deep division within the ranks.
The politically precarious situation has plunged the House into uncharted territory as it looks increasingly unclear whether any Republican can get the 217 votes needed to win the gavel.
Emmer is now the third Republican to win the nomination of the GOP conference only to then exit the race after failing to lock up the necessary votes to win the gavel.
After winning the party nomination in a secret ballot election on Tuesday, Emmer faced swift opposition from the right flank of his conference as well as a significant rebuke from former President Donald Trump. In a post on Truth Social, Trump called Emmer a “Globalist RINO,” and said that voting for him “would be a tragic mistake.” Trump later said he had a “big impact” after Emmer dropped out.
Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election, voted to keep the government open for 47 days, voted for the bipartisan law to avoid a debt default and voted to codify same-sex marriage – all issues that members of the hard-right had cited as issues for his candidacy.
Members of Trump’s team also called GOP members and urged them to oppose Emmer for speaker, two sources told CNN.
Despite a cordial phone call with the former president over the weekend, Trump reposted attacks against the House GOP whip on Truth Social Monday night and then followed up with his own attack after Emmer was nominated.
Leaving a GOP conference meeting Monday night, Emmer told CNN, “We have a good relationship,” when asked about Trump.
Following Emmer’s withdrawal from the race, Republican Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas warned that the GOP is at an “impasse” and said he doesn’t know if they’ll be able to resolve their internal differences and find a speaker.
“Right now, I think it is apparent to the American people that the GOP conference is hopelessly divided. Can it be overcome? Never say never,” he said. “But the signs are right now that this conference is at some kind of an impasse.”
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.