What to Know in Washington: GOP Divisions Threaten Scalise

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Republican Steve Scalise faces a fight to become House speaker that could drag on for days or even weeks, delaying the US response to fiscal deadlines and a new war in the Middle East.

Scalise yesterday claimed the GOP nomination for speaker by the narrowest of majorities, beating out Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) who was endorsed by Donald Trump. Scalise immediately began a charm offensive to get the backing of the dozens of other House Republicans, including several Trump acolytes, who didn’t support his candidacy.

Photo: Nathan Howard/Bloomberg
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) speaks to reporters.

The House can conduct no business, including approving new aid to Israel, until a new speaker is in place.

But many of his party colleagues quickly indicated they won’t soon — or likely ever —get behind the 58-year-old Louisianan. Scalise can’t afford to lose more than four GOP votes to win against unified Democrats for their party leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.).

A drawn-out process risks producing a speaker even weaker than the ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who’d preside atop a dysfunctional majority riven by deep splits over the strategy for negotiating with Democrats and policy issues like financing for Ukraine and avoiding a government shutdown next month.

“The American people are getting an up-close-and-personal look at the sausage being made,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas.) who isn’t sold on Scalise. Read more from Billy House and Erik Wasson.

The face-off between Scalise and Jordan could have major implications for the transportation, oil, and defense industries.

Scalise has built up a long history of support from the oil, gas, and maritime shipping industries. Jordan would be new to party leadership and has a history of calling for deep cuts to domestic spending. He’s also a rare Republican to back slashing defense dollars. The Bloomberg Government policy team examines both candidates’ voting records to show how either might handle a host of policy issues.


  • Around 4:30 p.m., President Joe Biden will meet with CEOs to hear their perspectives on the economy and discuss Bidenomics.
  • White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will deliver a briefing at 1 p.m.


The Speakership Scramble

SCALISE’S nomination to be the next speaker means Republicans will need to fill their majority leader vacancy. Multiple lawmakers are floating bids to succeed Scalise as the second-in-command with possible contenders ranging from Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). Read more.

SCALISE’S victory would put a friend of business interests in the speaker role as lobbyists push for an end-of-year deal reviving a trio of tax breaks. He has previously supported GOP-friendly issues like tax cuts and could lead an agenda with similarities to that of McCarthy. Read more.

The War in Israel and Gaza

Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, hours after forming an emergency government and wartime cabinet, foreshadowed a major ground attack on Gaza by promising to destroy Hamas.

  • “Every Hamas terrorist is a dead man,” the Israeli prime minister said at a late-night briefing, flanked by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz, the leader of an opposition party. Read more.

BIDEN offered full-throated support to the Jewish community and a fiery denunciation of those offering justification for the bloody attacks by Hamas, saying it was “unconscionable” to downplay the atrocities. The address was Biden’s latest effort to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, even as the attacks have shined new light on divisions within the Democratic Party and progressive movement over the Middle East. Read more.

  • Administration officials are leaving open the possibility of re-freezing $6 billion in Iranian oil money that was released as part of a prisoner swap amid growing bipartisan criticism after Iran-backed Hamas militants attacked Israel. Read more.
  • The administration is also considering sending planes, boats, and vehicles to transport Americans out of Israel, as soaring commercial flight cancellations make it harder for Americans to return home. Read more.
  • The US raised its travel advisory for Israel and West Bank to the second highest level, warning citizens to “reconsider” going to the area, citing the threat of terrorist attacks. Read more.

REP. SETH MOULTON warned yesterday that Israel needs a plan for what to do after a potential invasion of Gaza.

  • “If Israel thinks they’re just going to fight their way to peace, I’m sorry, but they’re wrong,” said Moulton (D-Mass.), who served four tours as a Marine in Iraq. “You cannot have long-term success in a counterinsurgency if you don’t win over friends and allies, and I have yet to see the Israeli strategy for doing so.” Read more.

TRUMP is drawing criticism from Ron DeSantis over comments on Israel. At a rally last night, Trump criticized Netanyahu for not joining him in a 2020 drone strike in Iraq that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

  • “The night before it happened I get a call that Israel will not be participating in this attack,” Trump said of the drone strike. “I will never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down.”
  • “Terrorists have murdered at least 1,200 Israelis and 22 Americans and are holding more hostage, so it is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel,’” DeSantis said in post on X. Read more.

What Else We’re Watching

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Biden will huddle with chief executives from large firms to discuss economic conditions and efforts to roll out his infrastructure, climate and manufacturing initiatives during a meeting today at the White House.

FAA, Amtrak Nominees to Face Key Senate Panel Vote on Oct. 18

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a vote on Oct. 18 to confirm Michael Whitaker, Biden’s pick to lead the FAA, the committee announced.

BGOV OnPoint: Contractors Hunt for Work With Future Bids Stalled

There are paths for federal vendors to win work as the government operates under a stopgap funding measure, even as plans for pending multibillion-dollar opportunities have to halt. Read the latest BGOV OnPoint for more on the procurement landscape under stopgap funding.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com

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