“I feel like we have the votes to do it and not only do it — to do it today, to go upstairs on the House floor, get 218 votes. And then get back to work for the people who elected us,” he told Fox News’s Lawrence Jones on Wednesday.
He expressed an urgency felt within the Republican conference to get back to work, namely securing the southern border and assisting Israel following the fatal Hamas terror attack this past weekend.
“The Congress cannot move without a speaker,” he emphasized. “The world is moving and moving in a very bad direction. We have got to get the House back to work.
“I have been talking to our allies in Israel. There are real things they need,” Scalise said. “We passed some legislation already, just in the last few weeks, to put in place the ability for Israel to have more defense systems that they could use today. Those things are not in place.”
“Our members have stronger resolve than ever to get back to work. I want that work to start today,” he added.
However, not every Republican is so confident about the conference electing a speaker so soon.
“In my opinion, I don’t think anybody has 217,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said following Tuesday’s closed-door candidate forum.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) predicted there is a dismal “2% chance” that a speaker will be selected on Wednesday. He noted there is a “real appetite in there not to go to the floor until we have 217.”
Scalise is positioning himself as a unifier among a fractured Republican conference that has frequently been held up by a hard-line faction.
The majority leader pointed to his past experience as evidence of his ability to unify. “I have been doing that for years as the whip, as the leader,” he said.
Scalise further highlighted his skill at coalition building in order to pass important legislation. “I have put together very complicated coalitions to do major healthcare policy, energy policy, border security policy, a parents bill of rights — all of those things are things that might look easy after they pass, when we all come together,” he explained.
Scalise is taking on Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, in the speaker race. There has been encouragement for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be reinstated amid the terrorist attack and war in Israel, but Scalise indicated that McCarthy isn’t planning to jump back in.
Both of the men have racked up several endorsements from their colleagues, but a clear choice has not emerged.