Republicans nominated conservative hardliner Jim Jordan as their candidate for speaker of the US House of Representatives on Friday, as the lower chamber of Congress entered its 10th day of a leadership vacuum that has paralyzed Washington.

The party has been in disarray since right-wing rebels forced out Kevin McCarthy, leaving the Republican-controlled House unable to address mounting crises including a looming government shutdown and US ally Israel on a war footing.

Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise was initially seen as the best hope for a new standard-bearer who could heal the party's bitter divides, and he beat Jordan to the nomination in a secret ballot earlier this week.

But the 59-year-old Ohioan, backed by former president Donald Trump, gets a second chance now that Scalise dropped out, after it became clear he lacked the 217 votes necessary to prevail in the full House.

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Republicans preferred Jordan, a darling of the right but a divisive figure in more mainstream circles, over Georgia congressman Austin Scott in the Republicans' second internal nomination vote of the week.

"I highly respect Jim Jordan. He is an asset to the Republican Party," Scott said in a social media post following the vote.

"Our conference has spoken, and now we must unite behind Jordan so we can get Congress back to work."

Unlike McCarthy and Scalise, Jordan has the trust of the party's most conservative faction, having spent years as a fringe rabble-rouser before getting the chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee.

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Crucially, he also has many admirers in the influential right-wing cable news ecosphere, most notably Fox News star Sean Hannity, who said lawmakers would be "crazy" to vote against Jordan.

- 'Natural born principled leader' -

"He is a natural born principled leader who will lead house Republicans to unite vs the radical left on the house and senate," Hannity posted on social media.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a colleague of Jordan in the hard right Freedom Caucus, said it was "yet to be seen" if he could win a vote in the full House but repeated her full-throated endorsement.

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Jordan is disliked by moderates wary of his hardline outlook, and who remember his leading role in the downfall of a previous Republican speaker, John Boehner, and in the longest US government shutdown in history, in 2018.

He beat Scott by 124 votes to 81, meaning he will need to find support from another 90-plus Republicans to win the vote in the full House.

He called a "validation vote" immediately after his nomination to ask members if they would vote for him on the floor. Only 152 of his colleagues said yes.

"We have a lot of members who just feel like they will let perfect be the enemy of the good," said center-right congressman Dusty Johnson.

"That is not how any functional government, or any functional marriage, or any functional business works."

With several Democrats and Republicans already out of town, the House adjourned for the weekend without voting -- giving Jordan precious extra hours to boost his support.

"The most extreme members of the Republican caucus have hijacked their party and paralyzed Congress," said Seth Magaziner, a Democratic congressman from Rhode Island.

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"Without a speaker, we cannot protect our national security."

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