Alabama U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers has drawn plenty of attention over the weekend, after he reportedly told Democrats that he would be open to working with them to select a new House speaker.
Far-right conservatives reacted with the expected outrage over Rogers’ comments, but the longtime Alabama congressman didn’t back down, telling reporters that there’s absolutely nothing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who Republicans nominated for speaker on Thursday, could do to earn Rogers’ vote.
Rogers then, reportedly, went into a closed-door meeting with Democrats and asked Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries what concessions Republicans would need to make in order to strike a deal with Democrats on a new speaker.
Rogers did not say that he would be open to nominating Jeffries, who would be the Democrats’ choice for speaker, only that he would be open to working with Democrats to find a compromise. In the past, such compromises have included splitting membership of important committees or other process-related concessions.
Rogers’ has made no secret of his anger with the far-right representatives in his party. During the vote to name Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaker in January, Rogers tried to physically assault Rep. Matt Gaetz, who has led a resistance to McCarthy and other supposed moderate Republicans. Gaetz led the charge earlier this month to remove McCarthy as speaker – an act that was successful but that has left Republicans paralyzed by the fight for a new speaker and the House as a whole unable to vote on proposed legislation until a speaker is named.
McCarthy told his party that he would not seek the position again. An effort to name Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise fell several dozen votes short. And it doesn’t appear that Jordan currently has enough votes to win the speakership either, particularly with Reps such as Rogers and several others pledging that they will never vote for him.
Jordan is controversial on both sides of the aisle, thanks to his outspoken devotion to former President Trump and sex abuse scandal dating back to his days as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Jordan was one of several congressmen who attempted to halt the electoral vote process in the House and he later criminally defied a subpoena from the Jan. 6 Committee, for which he was referred, along with three others, to the House Ethics Committee.
Jordan also was accused by several former OSU wrestlers of having knowledge of a former team physician committing sexual assaults of student-athletes at the university. The doctor, Richard Strauss, was found to have committed at least 47 rapes and nearly 1,500 instances of sexual assault during his 18-year tenure working at OSU. In 2018, a group of former OSU wrestlers said Jordan and former head coach Russ Hellickson were aware of the abuse and refused to stop it, and two brothers who were former OSU wrestlers accused Jordan of attempting to coerce them into recanting their allegations against Jordan.
Republicans said Sunday that they plan to hold a vote to nominate Jordan on Tuesday.