House Republicans elect McCarthy as leader with eye to 2020

Robert F. Bukaty  APRep. Bruce Poliquin speaks at a news conference Tuesday Nov. 13 2018 in Augusta Maine

Robert F. Bukaty APRep. Bruce Poliquin speaks at a news conference Tuesday Nov. 13 2018 in Augusta Maine

California Republicans, who had a really bad midterm election, did get one good piece of news today, as Kevin McCarthy was elected House Minority Leader in a surprisingly easy 159-43 victory over conservative leader Jim Jordan of OH, a founding member of the ever-fractious House Freedom Caucus.

With Ryan headed for the exits, McCarthy, the current No. 2 House Republican, had always been viewed as the heavy favorite to become minority leader in the new Congress, the highest-ranking GOP leadership post with Republicans in the minority after losing control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

That's because a sixth person, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, stood beside them even though his U.S. Senate race against Democrat Bill Nelson is in the middle of a recount filled with lawsuits and unfounded accusations of voter fraud. McCarthy, who boasts an amiable relationship with President Donald Trump, campaigned for the role by pledging to focus on winning back the majority. Mr. Trump calls him "My Kevin", and McCarthy's name is sometimes mentioned as a potential replacement if the president were to replace his chief of staff.

Mr. McCarthy, who trounced conservative challenger Rep. Jim Jordan of OH in the House leader's election, promised cooperation with Democrats - up to a point.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was named minority whip and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming became the House Republican Conference Chair as her father former Vice President Dick Cheney, sporting a cowboy hat, looked on from the room. "We knew history was against it", he said.

Jordan and McCarthy encountered questions and finger-pointing during a private meeting with GOP lawmakers Tuesday night as the party sorted through the midterm defeat that put House Democrats in the majority for the next two years. He did not criticize Mr. Trump's style, though, saying that the president has racked up some bipartisan accomplishments, including work on sentencing reform.

Senate Democrats say they won't agree to US$5 billion, and Republicans said they intend to remind the president of the constraints imposed by the 60-vote margin that gives Democrats significant leverage in the Senate.

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McCarthy, who has been majority leader under Ryan, acknowledged Republicans "took a beating" in the suburbs in last week's national elections, especially as the ranks of GOP female lawmakers plummeted to just 13.

Most Republicans, though, said the losses don't reflect on Mr. McCarthy.

In the only other competitive race, Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama defeated David Schweikert to lead the Republican Policy Committee.

Jordan is a leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.

House Democrats will not hold their leadership elections until after Thanksgiving. Jordan is a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Though the tax cut lowered overall rates, it hurt wealthy taxpayers and property owners in high-tax, Democrat-run jurisdictions because it capped the state and local tax (SALT) deduction at $10,000.

"I think that it's awesome to have a young voter turnout as large as we did", Rachel Grode '19 said. "I think he will [be the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee] one day".

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