House Republicans Elect New Leadership Team

On June 20, 2014, in Congressional News, by Maggie Ernst

House Republicans reshaped their leadership team yesterday, elevating Kevin McCarthy (CA) to majority leader, following the stunning primary defeat of Representative Eric Cantor (VA), which caused the mid-session leadership shakeup.  House Republicans also elected yesterday Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) to replace  McCarthy as majority whip. The elections are decided via secret ballot.  Republican aides announced the winners of the leadership elections but not the vote tallies, which are always kept secret.

The leadership team sets the legislative agenda, decides who gets committee gavels, and runs the House floor, so these elections have large implications, particularly since Democrats control the White House and the Senate.

McCarthy defeated Rep. Raul Labrador (ID) to become the second-ranking House Republican behind Speaker John Boehner (OH).  The victory by McCarthy, a former deli owner who was first elected to the House in 2006, makes him the potential heir apparent to Boehner.  Along with Cantor and Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), McCarthy is an original “young gun” who helped lead Republicans back into the House majority during the election of 2010.  “I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead and the wisdom to listen.  And we’ll turn this country around,” McCarty said at a press conference following the votes.

Scalise defeated Reps. Peter Roskam (IL) and Martin Stutzman (IN).  He is chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee.  With Scalise election, the Deep South once again has a seat at the leadership table after a two-year absence.  Scalise was first elected to the House in 2008.  “I’m looking forward to bringing a fresh new voice to our leadership table and joining with this team to help confront the challenges that people all across this country are facing.  We’ve got solid conservative solutions,” Scalise said after his victory.

McCarty and Scalise will assume their new posts when Cantor steps aside on July 31.  Speaker Boehner, McCarthy, and Scalise will stand for reelection for their leadership posts once again in November, after the 2014 midterm elections.