Californian chosen as Boehner successor
WASHINGTON — House Republicans elevated California Rep. Kevin McCarthy to majority leader and elected Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise whip on Thursday in a rare mid-session leadership shakeup caused by Majority Leader Eric Cantor's surprise defeat in last week's Virginia primary.
“I think you'll see a renewed energy” from the House GOP now, said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.
At a brief news conference with his new team, House Speaker John Boehner said, “Our job is to stay focused on the American people's priorities,” among them spending bills — or a stop-gap funding measure — with a Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
Several conservatives said the election did not produce enough of a shakeup in the top ranks to satisfy them.
“There's still going to be a push” from conservatives to tug the leadership in a more rightward direction, said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. He supported McCarthy's sole competitor for the majority leader position, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who has been a frequent Boehner critic.
John Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said that Boehner has a better relationship with McCarthy, 49, than he did with Cantor, who was seen as eager to seize the speaker's gavel from Boehner.
“One bit of good news for Boehner is that he doesn't have to look over his shoulder anymore,” Pitney said.
Scalise, 48, who is head of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative GOP faction, said he wanted to bring “a fresh new voice to the leadership table” but vowed to be part of a “unified team.” He easily defeated the current deputy whip, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, and Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.
Cantor will step down from his post on July 31. At that point, McCarthy will become leader and Scalise will move into the third-ranking job.