By John Gizzi
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, worked tirelessly over the weekend to line up the votes for a Tuesday floor vote for the speakership.
But several sources close to his effort say his team says they are 15 to 19 votes short of getting to the magic 217.
Some believe the gap is even bigger. Jordan lost in the secret ballot by 55 votes to relatively unknown Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga.
Now Team Jordan wants to bring the vote to the floor. The floor vote is public, and his supporters say there will be significant pressure on Republicans to vote for Jordan.
Even former President Donald Trump has quietly been calling on-the-fence members to lock down a Jordan vote.
But Jordan faces a strong anti-Jordan group that "want anybody but Jim," as one House member explained to me.
And the Democrats are up to their own schemes.
Late this week, four House Democrats came up with a proposal that could derail GOP plans.
On Saturday, four centrist Democrats in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Ed Case of Hawaii, Susie Lee of Nevada, and Jared Golden of Maine — wrote a letter to Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry, R.-NC, saying they would back him as temporary speaker in 15-day increments.
Under their proposal, the House would be able to proceed on such measures as aid to Israel and funding the federal government after the continuing resolution runs out next month.Such "coalition speakers" have been executed in several state legislatures over the past half-century, among them Connecticut, California, and New Jersey.
Most Republican members who spoke to Newsmax immediately dismissed the Problem Solvers’ suggestion.
One lawmaker told us upon hearing it, "This sounds like a deal that will give the Democrats some kind of power in the House despite being a minority, and we [the GOP House members] will pay dearly for it in ’24."
Meanwhile, Jordan backers believe they are close to victory.
"The real measure of a leader is how they increase their impact and have a sense of purpose and mission," said Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., a strong Jordan backer. "Jim is that kind of leader."
Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., insisted to us that "there is a pathway for Jim Jordan to become speaker. It’s just he has to go to different lawmakers than [House Majority Leader Steve] Scalise would have had to go to."
But the betting from insiders is that Jordan will not be able to close the deal.
Sometime later this week, he will have to decide if he keeps the voting going or steps aside for other members to put their names forward.
Several are likely to do so, including Reps. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Byron Donalds of Florida, and Jack Bergman of Michigan.