Scalise remains loyal to McCarthy as infighting among Republicans continues

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 9:10 PM CST
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Congressman Steve Scalise huddles with some of his Republican colleagues on the House floor...
Congressman Steve Scalise huddles with some of his Republican colleagues on the House floor over the stalemate related to choosing a new House Speaker.(Source: CNN)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Day two of the new Congress started the way day one did with someone nominating Kevin McCarthy for the House Speaker’s job.

“I rise to nominate the gentleman from California Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, to applause from a majority of the Republicans in the chamber.

And in vote after vote on Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana remained loyal.

Scalise answered, “Kevin McCarthy” during the voice vote.

But the wall of opposition to McCarthy becoming speaker shows no signs of crumbling. Twenty Republicans are adamant about blocking his ascension to the speaker’s position.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado, mentioned President Donald Trump in her comments.

“Even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off, I think it actually needs to be reversed. The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw with that I yield,” she said.

The infighting among Republicans is on display for the world to see.

FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman has been watching the repeated voting to select a House speaker.

“Continued unprecedented chaos as a small contingent, about 20, of the Republican Caucus, 10% holds the entire party hostage,” said Sherman.

It is a political standoff that could have serious implications for Scalise. Pundits think Republicans looking for a consensus candidate could turn to Scalise who they weeks ago selected to serve as House Majority Leader in the new GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

“In all of these early votes, Steve Scalise has been a mainstay alternative to Kevin McCarthy as potential consensus choice,” said Sherman.

Scalise, a native of Jefferson Parish just outside of New Orleans, was first elected to Congress in 2008 and before that he spent years in the Louisiana legislature.

Sherman says Scalise has continued to ascend in the GOP hierarchy.

“Steve Scalise rose to prominence as chair of the Republican Study Committee and since then has been a mainstay in Republican politics at its highest echelons, positioning himself for a multi-decade span of leadership roles,” he said.

Democrats in the House are solidly united in wanting Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to lead Congress’ lower chamber.

“As chair of the Democratic Caucus I am directed by that caucus to present for election to the 118th Congress the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, representative-elect for the state of New York for the office of speaker,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar of California.

Because all Democrats have voted for Jeffries in the series of House votes this week, he bested McCarthy in the vote count. But neither reached the required 218 votes necessary to become House Speaker. And Democrats are pointing out that they are unified, an obvious reference to the fighting happening among Republicans.

“I think the Democratic Caucus has popped some popcorn to show the American people the Republicans aren’t ready to govern yet, they’re not trying to help solve this in the early votes,” said Sherman.

Republicans opposed to McCarthy nominated an African American candidate of their own during Wednesday’s proceedings, Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas led the way.

“Here we are and for the first time in history there have been two black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House,” said Roy.

But until there is a speaker the House cannot conduct business.

“A small group of less than 5% of the overall House members is denying the body the ability to even move forward with getting sworn in or the ordinary business,” said Sherman.

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