House Republicans are set to renew their frantic search for a speaker Monday, nearly three weeks since Kevin McCarthy was ousted as their leader — effectively bringing the business of lawmaking to a halt and throwing the party in control of Congress’s lower chamber into disarray.
Nine candidates who are officially vying for the gavel will participate in a closed-door forum on Capitol Hill Monday night to each make their case in front of the House Republican Conference, which is expected to vote on its next nominee for speaker on Tuesday morning.
The candidates are as follows:
• Tom Emmer, Minnesota
• Mike Johnson, Louisiana
• Jack Bergman, Michigan
• Gary Palmer, Alabama
• Byron Donalds, Florida
• Kevin Hern, Oklahoma
• Dan Meuser, Pennsylvania
• Austin Scott, Georgia
• Pete Sessions, Texas
Below is a quick guide to each of the candidates and what their chances are of getting 217 votes needed to become the next speaker of the House.
Rep. Tom Emmer
Years served in Congress: 4
Key position: House majority whip
Emmer, the no. 3 Republican in leadership, announced his bid for the speakership on Saturday. He was quickly endorsed by McCarthy.
“He sets himself head and shoulders above all those others who want to run,” McCarthy said of Emmer on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “We need to get him elected this week and move on, and bring not just this party together but focus on what this country needs most.”
Emmer is one of just two candidates currently vying for speaker who voted to certify the results of the 2020 election. That vote has provoked the ire of some of former President Donald Trump’s most prominent allies.
Rep. Mike Johnson
Years served in Congress: 6
Key position: Vice chairman of the House Republican Conference
Johnson, an attorney and former talk show host serving in his fourth term, previously supported Rep. Jim Jordan’s failed speakership bid.
“We all agree the urgency of this hour demands a specific plan and bold, decisive action,” Johnson said in a letter to colleagues announcing his candidacy. “It also demands a leader who will humble himself each day before Almighty God, selflessly serve the full membership of this body, and fight ceaselessly for our core conservative principles and policies.”
Rep. Jack Bergman
Years served in Congress: 6
Key position: Serves on the House Armed Services and Veterans committees
Bergman, a retired Marine lieutenant general who is in his fourth term, is the oldest candidate on the list.
“The regular functioning of the federal government can’t wait on useless infighting and arguments,” Bergman said in a statement announcing his bid. “What matters right now is choosing a Speaker in order to make sure that our government — and particularly our military — is funded, and that both our homeland and our critical allies are secure in this time of crisis.”
Rep. Gary Palmer
Years served in Congress: 8
Key position: Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee
The fifth-term congressman, who was elected in 2014, has served as the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee for the last five years.
Rep. Byron Donalds
Years served in Congress: 2
Key committees: Serves on the House Oversight and Reform and Financial Services committees
The 44-year-old is the youngest on the list but arguably the most well known. He was nominated for speaker in January by influential right-wing Texas Rep. Chip Roy and has become a conservative media staple.
“My sole focus will be securing our border, funding our government responsibly, advancing a conservative vision for the House of Representatives and the American people, and expanding our Republican majority,” Donalds said in a statement announcing his candidacy.
Rep. Kevin Hern
Years served in Congress: 5
Key position: Chairman of the Republican Study Committee
Hern, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives on Capitol Hill, announced his bid Friday the House Republican Conference voted to drop Jordan as its nominee.
“We must unify and do it fast,” Hern said in a statement announcing his own bid. “We need a different type of leader who has a proven track record of success, which is why I’m running for Speaker of the House.”
Rep. Dan Meuser
Years served in Congress: 4
Key committees: Serves on the House Financial Services and Small Business committees
Meuser, a former business executive and staunch supporter of Trump, has vowed to bring a “business perspective to things and gain consensus.”
Rep. Austin Scott
Years served in Congress: 12
Key committees: Serves on the House Agriculture and Armed Services committees as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Scott, who had challenged Jordan for speaker and lost in a secret-ballot vote 124-81 after initially supporting him, announced another bid for the gavel on Friday.
“If we are going to be the majority we need to act like the majority, and that means we have to do the right things the right way,” Scott wrote in a post on X. “I supported and voted for Rep. Jim Jordan to be the Speaker of the House. Now that he has withdrawn I am running again to be the Speaker of the House.”
Rep. Pete Sessions
Years served in Congress: 24
Key position: Former chairman of the House Rules committee
Sessions, former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is the longest-serving candidate on the list. The Texas congressman lost reelection in 2018 but came back to Congress in 2020.
In a statement, he said he believes “can forge a positive path as a conservative leader who can unite the conference.”
McCarthy has not ruled out a return as speaker should the Republican conference fail to elect his permanent replacement. The conference could opt to give Rep. Patrick McHenry, who’s been filling in as temporary speaker, more powers on an interim basis, but so far they’ve been reluctant to do so.
Jordan and Rep. Steve Scalise, the two nominees after McCarthy who failed to gain the necessary support to grab the gavel, are longshots.
And since you don’t have to be a sitting member of Congress to become speaker, Trump’s name continues to be floated by some people in the Republican Party as someone who could get to 217.