At 2 p.m. on Friday, near the end of what had been a bizarre week on Capitol Hill, Rep. Chris Deluzio wasn’t sure what the immediate future held for him. Would he remain in Washington for the weekend while Republicans continued their bitter internal fight to elect a House Speaker, or would he return to his Pittsburgh-area district? Things seemed to change by the minute — in fact, he said during a brief phone conversation, the situation could be changing at that very moment.

And, in fact, it was. A few minutes after the conversation ended, news organizations sent alerts stating Ohio Republican Jim Jordan was out as nominee for Speaker. Jordan had lost three bids to win enough Republican votes for the job. Now he’d lost an internal, closed-door GOP vote.

Jordan is one of the most divisive members of Congress — he’s an election denier, and former speaker Republican John Boehner once called Jordan a “legislative terrorist” —  and his campaign for Speaker proved one of the most chaotic and dismaying events in modern American political history. By week’s end, House Republicans were screaming at each other (according to news reports). Some GOP members who didn’t support Jordan said they’d received death threats.

“It’s really stunning to watch,” said Deluzio, a first-term member representing Pennsylvania’s 17th District. His term began in January with California Republican Kevin McCarthy’s weird path to the speaker’s chair, which took 15 rounds of votes. It was the longest speaker’s election since before the Civil War. Deluzio said he realizes the current chaos is historic, “but not in a good way.”

The most recent discord paralyzed the House, which can’t move forward on any legislation without a Speaker.

“The Republicans are in disarray,” Deluzio said. “They can’t govern, and they’re trying to elevate a guy who attempted to overthrow the election and who now wants to be Speaker, the second in line to the presidency.”

His message to his GOP colleagues: “Come work with the Democrats. We’ll negotiate some arrangement. That’s the only path out.”

Earlier in the week, another Western Pennsylvania House member, Butler Republican Mike Kelly, announced on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter (call it “X” if you want) that he’d introduced a resolution that, if passed, would allow the House to get some work done. Kelly’s resolution called for a vote to elevate Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Caroline) as Speaker Pro Tempore and temporarily expand his power.

Deluzio responded to Kelly’s post: “Let’s talk.”

(WESA’s Chris Potter explored Kelly’s role in the drama last week.)

This is an especially hazardous time for the wheels to fall off the House wagon. Without a functioning Congress, the U.S. can’t effectively respond to crises rattling the world — harrowing events in Israel and Gaza, for example, and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“The moment to put country over party is now,” Deluzio said. “This is the time. I’m urging my Republican colleagues to meet Democrats in the middle somewhere to make a deal.”

Another looming issue: Government funding expires Nov. 17. House action is required to avoid a shutdown. 

The Republican civil war has made such a shutdown far more likely, Deluzio said. And that would hurt a lot of people. It would affect the pay of active-duty servicemembers and a long list of workers, including federal law enforcement and TSA personnel and air traffic controllers. It would impact food safety, small business loans, rail safety and new applications for Social Security.

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at

Steve Mellon

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at