Lawmakers prepare to vote on new speaker of the House this week

Last week was historic, with the House voting to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post. This week, Republicans will begin the process of electing a new speaker to take over.

There are two Republican lawmakers to pay attention to right now: Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Scalise is the current House majority leader and came to power alongside McCarthy. But that doesn’t mean much right now because McCarthy was also very close to Jordan, appointing him chair of the judiciary committee — a top job with subpoena power.

Meanwhile, Scalise is currently battling multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. But has described his diagnosis as treatable in the past few days.

“The cancer has dropped dramatically because of the success of the chemotherapy,” he said.

In addition to battling cancer, Scalise was nearly killed by a shooter in 2017 while practicing baseball with some of his congressional colleagues. He returned weeks later to bipartisan applause and presented the responding officers with the Capitol Police Medal of Honor.

As for Jordan, he technically lacks the leadership experience of Scalise, but he doesn’t lack name recognition. Jordan has been in office since 2007, going viral many times for taking on individuals like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Both Scalise and Jordan have similar conservative voting records. One key difference is on Ukraine, with Jordan recently voting against another $300 million aid package, while Scalise supported it.

Of course, it’s very possible that neither candidate reaches the necessary number to win. And another name could also emerge as a competitor.

Some members of Congress have said they want former President Donald Trump to take over as speaker of the House. After all, you don’t even have to be a member of Congress to fill the role. Trump did, however, endorse Jordan for it last week. 

So, how is a speaker of the House selected?

There are typically 435 voting members in the House. That means 218 is usually the number you need to win a majority. But right now, there are only 433 members, as two seats remain vacant.

If every member votes this week, that means 217 would be the magic number — one that could change and drop even lower if some lawmakers skip the vote or vote “present.”

But before any vote happens on the floor of the House this week, Republicans will first cast votes privately for their conference’s pick. That vote is slated for Wednesday, but it doesn’t guarantee the winner will become speaker.