House Republicans remain deeply divided over who should lead them ahead of a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning to try to select a speaker nominee.
If they were to unite around a candidate, the vote could come to the House as early as Wednesday afternoon, but that possibility seemed less and less likely.
Several Republicans emerged from a closed-door caucus Tuesday night saying they were no closer to unifying behind a candidate as several factions dug in for their nominees. That set the stage for a potentially noisy and lengthy secret ballot on Wednesday and suggested the House could continue without a speaker for days as the party ironed out its rifts.
Asked about the odds of the House electing a speaker by Wednesday, Representative Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, said: “I’d put it at 2 percent.”
Lawmakers were scheduled to gather at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill to begin voting in a closed-door session.
A week after a far-right faction forced Speaker Kevin McCarthy out of office, less than half of House Republicans have publicly announced their support for one of the leading candidates to replace him: Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the party’s second-ranking leader, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
There was also one complicating factor: supporters of Mr. McCarthy has been pushed to vote to reinstate him, an idea the California Republican has openly flirted with, even after saying Tuesday he does not intend to run.
The impasse reflected deep divisions in the GOP that could lengthen the race and lead to a drawn-out battle on the House floor. The Chamber was paralyzed by the overthrow of Mr. McCarthy, and members became increasingly concerned that he could not act in support of Israel after an invasion by the Palestinian group Hamas that left more than 1,000 dead and dozens of hostages taken.
Mr. Scalise and Mr. Jordan made brief comments to reporters as they left the forum Tuesday night. Mr. Scalise pressed for Republicans to quickly unite behind him, while Mr. Jordan and his allies sought a potentially longer contest.
“We are putting together a strong coalition,” said Mr. Scalise after he left the meeting. “Tomorrow we’ll wrap this up and Dom will get back to work.”
Republicans also discussed possible changes to their internal party rules before the vote, including one that would make it harder to oust a sitting speaker, and another that would require a near-unanimous vote among party members before nominating a candidate for speaker.
Both were attempts to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing story of Mr McCarthy’s tenure, in which he suffered 15 votes for speaker in January and then lasted just nine months in the job before being ousted by his own party.
Allies of Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Jordan was pressured to raise the threshold that a candidate for speaker would have to meet to be nominated, which could make it harder for Mr. Scalise to get recognition. Current party rules require a simple majority of party members, 111 votes, to be nominated; Mr. Jordan and his allies want to claim a majority in the House, 218 votes.