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Texas Rep. Pete Sessions drops out of U.S. speaker’s race after first round GOP voting

By Matthew Choi, The Texas Tribune

Texas Rep. Pete Sessions drops out of U.S. speaker’s race after first round GOP voting” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions dropped out of the race Tuesday for House Speaker after getting the fewest votes in a GOP conference meeting, leaving no Texans in the running.

The Waco Republican was one of nine candidates who had filed to fill the seat vacated by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California. Sessions had run on his experience leading the National Republican Congressional Committee and the House Rules Committee. He said chairing those bodies, which are closely tied to the campaigning and legislative aspects of the speaker’s job, gave him the leadership experience needed to unify the fractured Republican conference.

Sessions got only eight votes in a closed-door secret ballot conference vote. He got the fewest votes, requiring him to drop out of the race per conference rules. U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia nominated Sessions in the party meeting.

Sessions was always a long shot, but so were most of the candidates. Two members, Dan Meuser and Gary Palmer, dropped out of the race before the conference even started voting on its speaker nominee Tuesday morning.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who also previously chaired the NRCC, is the highest ranking candidate. He has McCarthy’s endorsement and has curried favor among Democrats for voting to certify the 2020 presidential election. Sessions did not.

Several members of the House Freedom Caucus rallied around their candidate, Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida. Among the Texans, Reps. Chip Roy of Austin and Ronny Jackson of Amarillo publicly backed Donalds before the vote.

Under House Republican rules, a candidate needs only a simple majority within the party conference to get the nomination. But the candidate will need 217 votes in the full House to become speaker.

Several members, including Roy, pushed for an internal rule that would require a speaker candidate secure 217 votes in conference. Doing so would avoid having any party infighting in the public eye.

The House has had 18 votes for speaker this year. McCarthy took 15 rounds of voting to get the job in January. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise got the Republican nomination two weeks ago but dropped out before a floor vote when he realized he could not get 217 votes.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a deeply conservative co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, pushed through three rounds of votes, losing support each time. The Republican conference voted to drop him as their nominee last week.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

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