Jordan, Scalise first two candidates for House speaker

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(NewsNation) — Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise have become the first two candidates to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he was ousted from the position by a small group of Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Scalise, who has been representing Louisiana since 2008, is the House majority leader. Having held the number two position, he has already established an infrastructure and leadership team.

But Scalise is also battling health problems, having been diagnosed with blood cancer over the summer. He is also dealing with the after-effects of a 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball game, where he was wounded by an anti-Trump shooter.

Scalise also faced public criticism in 2014 for having spoken to a group of white supremacists, though he later apologized and said he would not have attended if he had known more of their beliefs.

Unlike Scalise, Jordan doesn’t hold an established leadership position, though the Ohio representative is a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus. Jordan, serving since 2007, is popular with more conservative members of the party, though it’s unclear if moderates would support him in the role.

While Jordan told reporters he disagreed with the decision to vacate the speaker’s office, he said he was confident he could unite Republicans if elected to the role.

“I also think I can take our message to the American people, so the country knows what we’re doing and how we’re working for them,” he said.

While Scalise and Jordan are the only two candidates to have publicly expressed interest in the role so far, other names have been brought up by Republicans, including Rep. Kevin Hern, who leads a caucus that includes more than half the GOP members, and interim Speaker Patrick McHenry.

At least one GOP representative has also suggested nominating former President Donald Trump to the role, since there is no requirement for the speaker to be an elected member of the House of Representatives. So far, Trump has declined to run for the position.

Until a new speaker is elected, the House will be unable to bring new legislation to the floor or vote on bills, though committees may continue to meet and hearings may be conducted. The halt on legislative activity comes as the government faces another funding deadline of Nov. 17, when the current continuing resolution to fund the government expires.

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