Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, already the
third-ranking House Republican, was chosen to replace Eric Cantor as
majority leader. He will control the House floor and help decide the
party's legislative priorities.
Steve Scalise, a Louisiana lawmaker with backing from Southern
Republicans, beat out two other lawmakers on Thursday to replace
McCarthy as party whip, drumming up votes for bills.
Tea Party Republicans had pushed for one of their own to join the
leadership after a little-known professor defeated Cantor in his
Virginia primary by accusing the majority leader of not pursuing a
conservative enough agenda. Cantor will leave his position at the
end of July. The race brought fresh turmoil to the caucus, as Tea
Party favorites argued that Boehner and other, business-friendly
leaders gave in too easily to Democrats on spending disputes.
Tea Party-aligned Republicans said after the vote that they were
disappointed with the outcome of the majority leader race, in which
Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho lost to McCarthy.
But they said Scalise could push leaders to hold their ground on key
issues for conservatives, such as immigration reform and spending
He has a conservative reputation and leads the Republican Study
Committee, a group that includes about two-thirds of House
Republicans. But he also has a good relationship with Boehner.
"We really need him to whip the leadership," said Representative
John Fleming, who, like Scalise, is from Louisiana.
McCarthy is seen as having similar political views to Cantor, if a
more laid-back leadership style. On Thursday, he emphasized economic
issues and the Republican push to repeal President Barack Obama's
signature healthcare law.
"America is struggling. It's struggling with a stagnant economy, a
failed healthcare law," he said.
TEA PARTY CHALLENGES
McCarthy's deputy, Peter Roskam of Illinois, was one of the
lawmakers Scalise defeated to take the No. 3 spot. Representative
Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, another Tea Party conservative, had also
sought the job. Scalise emphasized his Southern conservative roots
to solicit votes from lawmakers who view Boehner's leadership team
as too moderate. On Thursday, Scalise's aides held placards that
read "Geaux Scalise," a play on Cajun words that is sometimes used
by Louisiana sports fans.
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Republicans leaving the room told reporters the vibe in the room was
not contentious and lawmakers who introduced the various candidates
kept their statements positive.
"No sparks flew at all," conservative Representative Steve King of
Iowa said after the vote.
Still, Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina said there was
frustration among conservatives after Labrador lost, even though he
said it was "at least a little bit of a shake-up" to leadership that
The results could embolden Tea Party Republicans to push their own
candidates after the November midterm elections, when the party will
again select its leaders, including the House speaker. Boehner has
said he plans to run again.
"It's important that we have a new look in a new Congress, should we
hold the house," Jones said.
Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Labrador supporter, told
reporters the Tea Party candidate had a strong showing. But he said
it would be harder to unseat current leaders after the midterms. "I
think this was our best shot to change leadership," he said.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell, additional reporting by David Lawder
and Julia Edwards, writing by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jonathan
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