McCarthy, Scalise are likely contenders for House speaker

Saul Bowman
April 13, 2018

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said he won't run against House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to become House speaker, lowering the likelihood for a direct conflict between the House's top two remaining Republicans for the top slot.

A popular front runner is U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Metairie Republican and now the third most powerful U.S. representative.

Though the next months will likely see jockeying for position, both McCarthy and Scalise said Wednesday that they were not focusing on any potential leadership change, as Ryan was still speaker through the midterm elections.

Neither Scalise nor McCarthy would acknowledge a race for Ryan's job or definitively deny it. Scalise said it's not "time to talk about what titles people want", while McCarthy said, "There is no leadership election. So I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on Kevin McCarthy to step aside", said Dr. Robert Collins of Dillard University in New Orleans.

A leadership source told CNN on Thursday that that Scalise's intention is "to be ready" in the case that McCarthy isn't.

Some big donors, who have given millions to Ryan this cycle, may not want him to stay on as speaker if the entire party is taking on water. McCarthy previously made a bid to become House Speaker.

On some level, I suppose it makes sense that Republicans would want to head into the elections in November with the question of who their next leader will be in the wake of Ryan.


"We've got to have a Speaker".

Either way, part of the issue also is what exactly either Republican is in line for - Speaker or minority leader.

Multiple House Republicans - conservative and moderate - cautioned Thursday the GOP leadership race needs to be open, and that Ryan should not presume to pick his successor.

Trump's input will play an "extremely powerful" role as House Republicans weigh the next speaker, Meadows said.

Ryan's statement, presented as an off-hand comment, comes as a surprise.

"In terms of getting things like coastal erosion, infrastructure projects, projects that require a large amount of money from the federal appropriation bills, but even if Republicans did lose control of the House, certainly as minority leader he would still have a great deal of influence over the appropriations process", said Collins. "It's hard to predict this far out", Collins said. But GOP leaders and a key Democrat - Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond [D-New Orleans], who is now chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus - rallied behind him, and the furor subsided.

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