Republican nominee Steve Scalise for the presidency of the US House of Representatives has withdrawn his candidacy. Scalise said this in the US Congress yesterday evening (local time) after failing to secure sufficient support within his own caucus. Although the latter had previously nominated him for the influential post, he would probably have been denied a majority in the Congressional Chamber due to several dissidents in the Republican ranks.
“There are still some people who have their own agenda,” Scalise said after a meeting of his caucus. There are differences of opinion that need to be resolved. Scalise warned: “This House of Representatives needs a leader.” The chairman of the House of Representatives comes third in the state ranking after the president and his vice president.
Extremely close vote
Scalise was chosen as the candidate by his group behind closed doors on Wednesday - but the vote was extremely close. The ultra-conservative politician prevailed with 113 votes to 99 against his party rival Jim Jordan, who is considered a loyalist of former US President Donald Trump.
The previous leader, Kevin McCarthy, was voted out as leader of the House of Representatives in a historic vote last week. Radical Republicans had driven him out of office. It was the first time in US history that a chairman of the House of Representatives lost his job in this way. The drama largely brought the US Parliament to a standstill.
The US Republicans only have a thin majority in the House of Representatives, so Republican dissidents have powerful leverage in their hands when it comes to voting - even if there are only a few of them. The party currently has 221 MPs in the Chamber of Parliament. 217 votes are needed to be elected chairman. So Scalise could only have had four dissidents in his group. He could not have counted on votes from US President Joe Biden's Democrats. After his election as nominee, around a dozen Republicans announced that they would withhold their vote from Scalise in a vote for the presidency.
Scalise is a cancer patient
The 58-year-old representative from Louisiana currently leads the Republican caucus in the chamber. He is currently being treated for blood cancer. Many initially had doubts that he would even be available for the office. Nevertheless, he was the second candidate, alongside Jordan, to announce that he would enter the presidential race after McCarthy was voted out.
Scalise has a staunchly conservative profile, agitating against abortion and same-sex marriage. He also speaks out against stricter gun laws, doubts the scientifically proven climate change and supported Trump's entry ban for people from Islamic countries. Scalise also made headlines in 2002 with a speech to a white supremacist group, for which he later apologized. Nevertheless, even he is seen by some of the party's hardliners as part of the political establishment in Washington that they reject.