U.S. Reps. Roger Williams, Jodey Arrington decline House Speaker bid

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams

U.S. Reps. Roger Williams and Jodey Arrington announced Sunday they will not run for speaker of the U.S. House, leaving only one Texan Republican in the mix to lead Congress’ lower chamber.

“After spending some time with my family in prayer, I have decided that now is not the right time for me to seek this important position,” Williams said in a statement explaining his decision. “With my responsibilities as Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, serving Texas’ 25th Congressional District, running a business back home, and most importantly, to my family in these challenging times, it is important I give all I have to the jobs at hand.”

Lubbock Congressman Arrington released a statement saying, “After careful consideration and much prayer, I have decided not to run for Speaker at this time. There are several capable candidates who have stepped forward to run, and I plan to support whomever our Conference elects on Tuesday.”

Arrington and Williams had expressed interest in the job Friday after U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a deeply conservative Ohioan who co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, dropped out of the race. The two Texans said they would consult with their families before deciding whether to launch a formal bid for the job.

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U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Waco, formally announced he was running for the job Friday afternoon and is still in the race. All three Texans had previously backed Jordan’s bid for speaker.

Arrington chairs the House Budget Committee and was an important lieutenant for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who was removed as speaker more than two weeks ago after eight far-right Republicans voted with Democrats for his ouster — and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, whose own candidacy for speaker quickly ended when he determined he didn’t have enough support from fellow Republicans to win a majority of the vote.

Williams has been in the House for more than 10 years and was previously Texas secretary of state. His 25th Congressional District stretches west from Arlington and Fort Worth and includes a number of rural counties east of Abilene.

Sessions was chair of the House Rules Committee, which works closely with the speaker to decide how legislation gets treated on the floor, from 2013 to 2019 and led the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2009 to 2013. The NRCC is the party’s House campaign arm.

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Without a speaker, legislation cannot move and the clock is ticking with the government set to shut down in less than a month unless appropriations bills pass.

Jordan’s withdrawal from the race on Friday, after he fell short of the necessary 217 votes in three tries, left the party without an immediately obvious alternative. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who also once led the NRCC, is the highest ranking Republican running and has McCarthy’s endorsement.

Members had until noon Eastern time on Sunday to formally declare their candidacies. Nine candidates are currently in the running, Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik announced Sunday.

Candidates will make their pitches to their party in a closed-door meeting Monday evening. The House Republican conference will vote on their nominee for speaker Tuesday morning. A full House vote for speaker has not yet been scheduled.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.