Emmer, the GOP Whip, reversed course after Donald Trump objected to his nomination and hardliners in the House denied the presumptive party leader the votes he would need.
He is the third Republican to fall short, leaving dejected Republicans no closer to resolving the chaos they have created since ousting Kevin McCarthy at the start of the month.
Emmer briskly left the building where he had been meeting privately with Republicans and hopped into a waiting SUV. He said nothing in response to shouted questions as they drove off from the Capitol complex.
Emmer ‘Wasn’t MAGA,’ Trump Says
Trump, speaking as he left the courtroom in New York where he faces business fraud charges, said his “un-endorsement” must have had an impact on Emmer’s bid.
“He wasn’t MAGA,” said Trump, the party’s front-runner for the 2024 presidential election, referring to his Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
For three weeks the House has been thrown into turmoil, the Republicans now trying desperately to end the bitter infighting and choose a new speaker who can credibly unite the GOP majority, lead the party, and get the U.S. Congress working again.
They prepared to return behind closed doors, where they spent much of their time, trying to agree on a new leader.
Attention Turns to Louisiana’s Johnson, a Trump Acolyte
Attention quickly turned to Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a lower-ranking member of House GOP leadership, who was the second-highest vote-getter on Tuesday’s internal ballots. A lawyer specializing in constitutional issues, he had rallied Republicans around Trump’s legal effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
“We’re in the same cul-de-sac,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.
Emmer of Minnesota, who is the party’s third-ranking Republican as the GOP whip, had jumped out in front during private morning balloting among a hodgepodge list of mostly lesser-known congressmen aspiring to be speaker, a powerful position second in line to the presidency.
But no sooner did Emmer win the majority vote of his colleagues than his nomination was shot down by a powerful detractor he had tried to win over — Trump, who has long criticized the party’s former campaign chief as disloyal.
While Emmer won a simple majority in a roll call behind closed doors — 117 votes — he lost more than two dozen Republicans, leaving him far short of what will be needed during a House floor tally ahead.
Others piled on in what was, in some ways, a do-over of the Trump-Emmer feud that has simmered since January, when the former president’s allies tried to stop Emmer’s rise to the GOP whip’s job.
Having rejected the top replacements, Majority Leader Steve Scalise and the Trump-backed Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, there is no longer any obvious choice for the job.
With Republicans controlling the House 221-212 over Democrats, any GOP nominee can afford just a few detractors to win the gavel.