With the Speaker of the House position far from secured after Republicans narrowly voted to nominate House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) over House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) with far less than the number of votes Scalise needed to win the role, who has now withdrawn from the race, the direction of the House leadership and federal priorities remain in the balance.
As Republicans scramble to align behind a nominee who can secure the votes he or she needs on the Republican side when the vote goes to the full House, the public is sending a clear message to Washington – elect a speaker who will address federal spending. New polling from YouGov shows by nearly a two-thirds margin, Americans want the new Speaker of the House to prioritize reducing spending.
On Wednesday Rep. Scalise narrowly beat Trump-pick Jim Jordan as the nominee for speaker by a margin of 113 votes to 99 votes with 8 voting present as reported by CNBC, but this highly divided House vote means Scalise is over 100 votes short of the number he needs to win the speakership. that left Scalise and his allies in the position of securing loyalty from around 100 House members who preferred Jim Jordan or refused to vote for either candidate.
But as of Thursday afternoon, at least ten Republicans had committed to not voting for Scalise, two have said they remain uncommitted, and the rest hadn’t made public statements yet about if they’ll come around to support him when Scalise suddenly withdrew from the race.
Hard-line Jim Jordan supporters who had said they wouldn’t support Scalise include Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina.
Selecting a speaker who has a clear plan to address federal spending is a top concern among many Republicans, with Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky saying that he won’t support Scalise unless Scalise comes forward with a plan to reduce spending.
Steve Scalise resigned from the Speaker’s race today. It’s time to elect Jim Jordan as Speaker of the House. America agrees. pic.twitter.com/FZdZuz2Mir— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 13, 2023
Massie is speaking for the majority of Americans when he speaks out about his top concern being a plan to reduce federal spending.
President Joe Biden’s 2023 budget proposed federal spending that exceeds 23.4% of GDP, the highest sustained level of spending in in our nation’s history. Meanwhile, our national debt has ballooned to over $33 trillion dollars and counting.
The American people bear the burden of the federal government’s reckless spending, and there is now broad bipartisan support among the public for the House to elect a speaker dedicated to cutting spending.
By nearly two to one, Americans say they want the new speaker of the House to focus on cutting federal spending according to recent YouGov polling. Sixty-four percent of Americans say the new speaker should prioritize cutting federal spending, including 84% of Republicans, 68% of Independents, and 45% of Democrats.
This makes cutting federal spending the number one priority Americans demand the new speaker addresses, far above other issues like “standing up to the MAGA movement” and even impeaching Joe Biden, although each of those are somewhat important to different groups.
House Republicans selecting a speaker who has a plan to address unsustainable federal spending is especially important to conservatives, but it is a top priority to swing voters as well, including minorities, moderates, and independents.
By a 16-point margin (58% to 42%) Hispanics want the new speaker to cut federal spending, and by the exact same margin Blacks agree. By a 34%-point margin (67% to 33%) whites want the new speaker to cut spending. Moderates want federal spending cut by a 26-point margin (63% to 37%) and Independents want federal spending cut by a 36-point margin (68% to 32%).
YouGov polling also shows nearly 60% of Republicans want the House to elect a speaker who is loyal to former President Trump. Securing funding for Trump’s border wall as well as for border patrol and conducting a serious investigation into whether President Biden carried out impeachable offences are also top priorities on the Republican side according to YouGov.
Americans are putting pressure on the House GOP to nominate a speaker who reins in reckless federal spending, prioritizes the border, and upholds America first principles. The role of speaker hangs in the balance, but the public is clear about the direction they want the House of Representatives to take, and will no doubt signal their priorities in the 2024 midterm elections as well.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.