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Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Majority Leader, speaks to media after a House Republican Conference meeting, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, October 12, 2023.

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters

Scalise quits. Now what?

Though Steve Scalise of Louisiana managed to win enough secret-ballot votes from fellow House Republicans on Wednesday to become the party’s nominee for House speaker, it became clear within hours that he didn’t have enough support to win the job in a vote of the full House. No Democrat would vote for him, and the GOP majority is so thin that no Republican can win if just four fellow Republicans refuse to back him.

Following a Thursday afternoon meeting of Republicans hoping to break the deadlock and unite behind Scalise, Ronny Jackson of Texas, referencing the traditional sign that cardinals have agreed on a new pope, told reporters that “If you see smoke, it’s not a speaker, someone just set the place on fire.”

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