House Republicans try again for the third time in as many weeks to unify on a new candidate for speaker, and they’ll have to pick from a wide field that includes Majority Whip Tom Emmer, the chairman of the GOP's largest ideological caucus, and the chairman of a House Agriculture subcommittee.

The House has been unable to conduct legislative business since Oct. 3, when eight Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., voted with Democrats to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Subsequent candidacies by Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan foundered when they were unable to get anywhere close to the 217 GOP votes needed to win the speakership. 

It’s far from clear that any of the latest nine candidates can succeed either. None has a particularly high profile or is known as a consummate fund-raiser such as McCarthy or as a seasoned legislative strategist. 

“I can't imagine anybody who gets to 217 quickly, and I can't even imagine anybody who gets 200 quickly,” Rep. Tom Massie, R-Ky., told reporters on Friday.

Emmer, who represents a Minnesota district northwest of the Twin Cities, is seen as the leader among the latest candidates. He has chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP conference’s fund-raising arm, and has been serving as the House GOP’s No. 3 leader. 

“Our Conference remains at a crossroads and the deck is stacked against us,” Emmer said in an open letter to his colleagues. “We have no choice but to fight like hell to hold on to our House Majority and deliver on our conservative agenda.”

McCarthy gave Emmer's candidacy a strong endorsement on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.

"He sets himself, head and shoulders, above all those others who want to run," McCarthy said. "We need to get him elected this week, and move on, and bring not just party together; but focus on what this country needs most."

But hardline conservatives are said to be wary of him, and former President Donald Trump has reportedly signaled that he opposes Emmer’s candidacy.

Emmer, unlike McCarthy, Jordan, Scalise and many of the latest candidates for the speakership, voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results in favor of President Joe Biden.

Other candidates for House speaker include Kevin Hern, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a mainstream conservative group; Austin Scott of Georgia, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee that oversees commodity programs; and Byron Donalds of Florida, one of four Black Republicans in the House and a member of the right-wing Freedom Caucus. 

Other candidates who filed by the noon Sunday deadline were Jack Bergman of Michigan, Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Pete Sessions of Texas and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.

Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, considered the race but ultimately didn't run.

Scott received more than 80 votes for speaker when he ran against Jordan on Oct. 13. He had offered himself as an alternative to Jordan at the last minute but quickly endorsed Jordan after the balloting.

Republicans are scheduled to meet privately Monday night to hear from the candidates and then vote on a nominee Tuesday, three weeks to the day from McCarthy’s removal. 

In a bid to get the conference to unify around the nominee, Rep. Mike Flood, R-Neb., has appealed to the candidates to pledge to support the eventual winner of the latest race.

“It is time to put politics and personalities aside and unite behind the next Republican Conference choice for Speaker,” Flood said in a letter to Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

Russ Vought, a White House budget director under Trump and now president of the hard-right The Center for Renewing America, on Saturday called Flood's pledge "ridiculous" and "cartel government."

One of the biggest challenges facing Republicans - and whomever eventually emerges as speaker – is to figure out what to do about funding the government.

A stopgap spending bill that has been funding the government since fiscal 2024 started Oct. 1 expires Nov. 17. House Republicans had planned to spend October debating individual FY24 spending bills but that idea went by the wayside when the hardliners took out their revenge on McCarthy for moving the stopgap bill and forced him out of the speakership.

Massie, a leading GOP budget hawk, is challenging the latest speaker candidates to lay out their plans for taking on the White House and Democratic-controlled Senate on FY24 spending.

Jordan was planning to move a long-term continuing resolution that threatened to trigger a 1% across-the-board cut in government spending next year unless Democrats cut a deal on more targeted reductions. 

“The question that all Speaker candidates must answer: What’s your plan to prevent an omnibus? McCarthy and Jordan both had plans that could’ve worked,” Massie said in a post on X. “If we end up with an omnibus and more spending, I’m looking at the 8 who vacated McCarthy and the 25 who voted against Jordan.”

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Massie told reporters he's looking for a candidate "who can get us through the next 90 days without a government shutdown and without doing an omnibus bill."

The boiling frustration and anger within the GOP conference spilled out in the open after Friday's meeting where Republicans voted by secret ballot on whether Jordan should continue his race. The vote went decisively against Jordan, 86-112.

“It reminds me how incredibly irresponsible it was for 208 Democrats and eight Republicans to put this House into absolute chaos without any kind of a plan for how we were going to move forward,” a frustrated Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., told CNN.

“Now, we really do need … somebody to step up, somebody who is mission driven, somebody who is focused on doing something rather than just being something. Blind ambition has distorted this process.”

Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):

Monday, Oct. 23

4 p.m. – USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report. 

Tuesday, Oct. 24

10 a.m. – House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing, “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Past Provisions and Future Needs,” 2167 Rayburn.

Wednesday, Oct. 25

9 a.m. – USDA releases the annual report, Household Food Security in the United States.

9 a.m. – USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook.

Thursday, Oct. 26

8:30 a.m. – USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.

Friday, Oct. 27

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