NASHVILLE -- One U.S. House Republican each from Tennessee and Georgia joined fellow GOP conservative hardliners Tuesday to help block Republican leader Kevin McCarthy's bid to lead the chamber's newly won majority and succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
U.S. Reps. Andy Ogles of Columbia, Tennessee, a former Maury County mayor and one-time head of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee who was elected to the House for the first time in 2022, and Andrew Clyde, a Gainesville, Georgia, businessman, were part of a group of 19 to 20 Republicans who at times supported Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio in three floor votes for speaker Tuesday.
House members expect to return Wednesday to begin new rounds of voting in the 118th Congress, which convened Tuesday for the first time. Republicans have a slim majority with 222 of the 435 members. Whoever wins the job of speaker needs 218 votes to do so.
Hard-right Republicans nominated Jordan three times on the floor, despite Jordan himself having nominated McCarthy.
After hours of voting, the chamber abruptly adjourned after McCarthy's third effort to win the needed votes failed yet again. McCarthy, of California, won 202 votes to Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York's 212. Reluctant nominee Jordan received 20 votes on the third vote.
Ogles, whose office did not respond to a Chattanooga Times Free Press request for comment, recently signed onto a nine-member Republican statement voicing opposition to McCarthy.
"The times call for radical departure from the status quo -- not a continuation of past, and ongoing, Republican failures," according to the letter that Ogles signed. "For someone with a 14-year presence in senior House Republican leadership, Mr. McCarthy bears squarely the burden to correct the dysfunction he now explicitly admits across that long tenure."
During Ogles' general election bid in the newly redrawn 5th Congressional District in the Nashville area, McCarthy headlined a Tennessee fundraiser for Ogles to help him raise more money in his contest against state Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville.
But while Ogles and Clyde attempted to block McCarthy from becoming speaker, a number of arch-conservatives sided with the longtime GOP leader on all three ballots, among them U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome, Georgia, and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Sherwood, Tennessee, Republican, as well as U.S. Rep. Mark Green, a Clarksville Republican. All three are members of the House Freedom Caucus.
Other Tennessee Republicans supporting McCarthy included U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah and U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett of Knoxville.
Greene, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump who strongly backs McCarthy's bid for speaker, bemoaned the situation.
"If the base only understood that 19 Republicans voting against McCarthy are playing Russian roulette with our hard-earned Republican majority right now," Greene tweeted. "This is the worst thing that could possibly happen."
She added, "Jim Jordan does NOT want to be Speaker and nominated Kevin McCarthy on the House floor for Speaker and is voting for him every round."
She said Jordan wants to be chairman of the Judiciary Committee, "but he can't because 19 Republicans are not supporting Jim Jordan by voting for McCarthy."
Just last week, Fleischmann tweeted he had appeared on Fox Business's "Mornings with Maria" program, writing, "It was a pleasure to join @MorningsMaria earlier today to discuss how @HouseGOP will restore fiscal sanity in DC, Biden's Border Crisis, and why I support Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House."
On Jan. 2, Clyde tweeted: "New year. New Congress. New Majority. House Republicans are ready to deliver on our promises to the American people."'
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