Rep. Tom Emmer wins support of squabbling Republicans but still needs support to become House Speaker

Rep. Tom Emmer Tuesday won the endorsement of squabbling Republican lawmakers to become the new House Speaker and put Congress back to business.

It took Emmer, a Minnesota lawmaker who was previously No. 3 GOP House leader, three hours and five ballots behind closed doors to win a majority vote of about 220 Republicans.

He won 117 votes to beat out six other candidates who started the day vying for the gavel, knocking off Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, a more far right-wing choice, on the fifth ballot.

Even so, it’s far from certain that Emmer or any Republican can win 217 GOP votes needed to secure the gavel in a vote on the House floor.

He was considered the odds-on favorite to win the nod, although some Republicans say he has not been a strong enough supporter of former President Donald Trump.

After three weeks of leaderless chaos and brutal infighting, some Republicans predicted the GOP was ready to set aside the internecine blood-letting.

“We need a listener of the House not just a Speaker of the House,” said Rep. Mark Alford, R-Missouri.

All the candidates have vowed to support whoever wins the vote. But that would in no way guarantee that all of their supporters will follow suit when the winner heads to the House floor in a vote that could come as soon as later Tuesday.

Besides Johnson, Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., showed significant backing as head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a key GOP faction.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Florida, an eloquent voice in the pro-Trump wing of the party, also amassed support.

Hern and Donalds dropped out after the fourth round along with several others who were ousted in earlier votes.

The GOP unleashed the drama on itself three weeks ago when a small group of hardliners ousted ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio followed by winning the GOP nomination. But their bids faltered amid strong opposition from various factions.

Democrats have so far avoided getting involved in the GOP-on-GOP violence with lawmakers voting in lockstep for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on the House floor.

That could change if Republicans conclusively prove themselves unable to elect a speaker anytime soon.

Democrats could agree to allow Emmer or some other relative moderate win by voting for that candidate or abstaining en masse.

Jeffries has said Democrats would consider negotiating a solution but would insist on a compromise that would allow votes on crucial foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel, along with a spending package to keep the government open past a Thanksgiving shutdown deadline.