House Republicans choose Steve Scalise for majority leader
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The House Republican conference on Tuesday (Nov. 15) elected Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) to serve as majority leader when the next session of Congress begins in January.
“I’ve served as the Whip now for the last eight years and it’s been a great honor, but ready to retire that title,” Scalise told Fox 8 before the leadership vote.
Republicans met behind closed doors Monday night to discuss who would lead their caucus.
“Last night, we had a candidate forum for all of the leadership positions, and no one announced to run against me for majority leader,” Scalise said. “But we had a really good conversation and I laid out my vision for what I want to see the House do in a Republican majority.”
Scalise remains as the No. 2 to current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was nominated for the Speaker post Tuesday. Scalise will manage the day-to-day operation of the House floor.
“The majority leader’s job is to schedule the House floor and to work with the chairs of the committees to lay out the bills that committees are going to take up, and the oversight hearings,” Scalise said.
Dillard University political analyst Robert Collins, who previously worked on Capitol Hill in the U.S. Senate, said Scalise’s promotion was no surprise.
“This is to be expected,” Collins said. “He has a strong position in the House.”
It will take 218 votes on the House floor to make McCarthy the next Speaker.
“None of this becomes formal until Jan. 3, when we take the majority,” Scalise said.
Scalise says Republicans are ready to lead and tackle issues like inflation, crime and border security.
“We got elected on a platform of addressing serious problems our country’s facing,” he said. “And we’ve got to put all of our attention into now going and passing an agenda in a Republican House next year that focuses on those problems families are dealing with. I’m excited about that.”
Collins said with Republicans expected to have a slim majority, McCarthy could have difficult days.
“His majority is going to be so small, that on certain key votes the Democrats are going to know that all they have to do is target and pick off three or four moderate, swing-state Republicans and they’ll be able to win those votes,” Collins said.
Scalise backed McCarthy for the speakership and they appeared together during a Tuesday afternoon press conference on Capitol Hill after winning their GOP colleagues’ support.
McCarthy said, “This new Republican leadership team is ready to get to work.”
Still, McCarthy faces a weeks-long slog to quell objections from his right flank before a final vote on the House floor.
McCarthy has led House Republicans this far, and with them now on the cusp of majority control, he has a chance to seize the gavel from Nancy Pelosi if Democrats are defeated. The vote was 188-31, with ballots cast by newly elected and returning GOP lawmakers, and some whose races have not yet been called.
The formal vote for House speaker will come when the new Congress convenes in January, and McCarthy will need to shore up support from no fewer than 218 lawmakers with potentially just a few votes to spare.
“We’re going to have the ability to change America,” McCarthy said, upbeat as he entered the private meeting.
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