COLUMBUS: Determined to end a bitter seven-week leadership impasse, Rep. Kirk Schuring says House members have until Friday to tell him how the chamber will go about picking a new leader next week.

That is the deadline the Canton Republican is giving members, Democrats included, to tell him whether next week’s House session will either be a vote to pick a new speaker, or a vote to change the rules so Schuring can continue to run the House through the end of the year as speaker pro tempore.

“Whichever gets the most votes by 5 p.m. on Friday, that’s the one we’re going to go with,” Schuring said. “We as a House need to come together.”

Members will not be permitted to try to craft a third option, said Schuring, the acting speaker and dean of the GOP caucus.

The goal is to end the impasse that has left the House without a speaker since April 10, when Speaker Cliff Rosenberger abruptly resigned amid an FBI investigation into his overseas trips and other perks of the job that he used.

The session would occur June 6, meaning the House goes another week without action on more than 100 bills lined up for potential votes.

“I think it’s a fair plan. It gets us off dead center,” Schuring said. “I want to involve Democrats because they need to be a part of this, too. Democrats say this is purely a Republican problem, but they need to be responsible too and get us back to the order of business.”

Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, has the support of a majority of the Republican caucus to be speaker, but he doesn’t have the 50 votes necessary to prevail in the 99-member chamber. Schuring previously stressed that he wants the winner to have 50 GOP votes.

“I didn’t think it was going to be that hard to get to 50,” Schuring said, noting that caucus traditionally backs whoever has the most votes.

Nearly a dozen Smith supporters met Tuesday outside the Statehouse to urge Schuring to call a vote, with some noting that constituents were pressing them to get the House back in action.

“I’m asking the small group of people who have yet to get behind Ryan for interim speaker to reconsider … so we can get back to work,” said Rep. Craig Riedel, R-Defiance. “I’m also asking the speaker pro tem to have the House floor vote so we can get this done and resolved. Let’s let the chips fall where the chips fall.”

Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, Smith’s rival to become speaker starting in 2019, said a House rule clarification to allow Schuring to run the House would be “the simplest, quickest and least divisive path in order for the House to return to voting sessions and get the legislative calendar back on track.”

“This is not a time to further divide an already divisive body or put self-promotion ahead of the duties at hand,” Householder said.

Schuring said there are a “good number of votes” in favor of doing a rule change, but “getting to 50 is not an easy thing.”

Schuring, Householder and Ohio Republican Chairman Jane Timken met late last week and developed the idea to change the rule so Schuring could run the House. Smith declined to attend the meeting, and called it “disrespectful” to his supporters.

Schuring said Tuesday that he had not informed Timken of his latest plan. “This solution will get us to the point one way or another,” Schuring said.

Timken said she continues to encourage the House to resolve the impasse. The House cannot act on legislation unless the speaker’s seat is filled, or the House rules are changed.

House Democrats are not sure what they will do. Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, said Democrats were not invited to any discussions “as they cobbled together some desperate plan to save the image of the Republican Party.”

“There is no real interest in involving the Democrats,” he said.

Citing uncertainty regarding the FBI investigation, most Democrats have said they will not vote for a Republican speaker candidate. However, Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent, D-Columbus, who has been feuding with Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, said Tuesday she will support Smith for speaker.

Schuring, who is running for a state Senate seat, had said he was not interested in running the House. But, if the chamber decides to go that direction, he said he will handle the legislative body, but will not be involved in running OHROC, the $4 million-plus House GOP campaign committee. Timken would play a role in operating that fund.

Control of that bulging bank account is a key factor in the ongoing leadership fight.

If the House chooses to elect a new speaker, Smith, Strahorn and Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, would be the likely nominees. If, over 10 votes, no candidate has 50 votes, on the 11th vote, the nominee with a plurality would win.