Kevin McCarthy elected minority leader, will lead House Republicans after Paul Ryan's exit

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected House minority leader Wednesday in a closed-door meeting of House Republican...

Posted: Nov 15, 2018 3:44 AM
Updated: Nov 15, 2018 3:44 AM

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected House minority leader Wednesday in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, putting the California Republican in position to lead House GOP members after Speaker Paul Ryan leaves Capitol Hill at the end of his term in January.

The vote was 159-43. McCarthy had faced a long-shot challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

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With Ryan headed for the exits, McCarthy, the current No. 2 House Republican, had long 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.

Ryan announced in April that he would not seek re-election and had endorsed McCarthy, the House majority leader for the past four years, to be his successor.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current No. 3 House Republican, was elected to the No. 2 Republican leadership position in the new Congress, where he will serve as minority whip. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was elected to the third-ranking position in the GOP hierarchy and will be the next Republican conference chair.

At a news conference Wednesday, McCarthy vowed to help the GOP win back the majority in the House and said Republicans will oppose Democrats if they target President Donald Trump.

"We will work with anybody across that aisle if they are there to work to move America forward. But let me be very clear, if their agenda is simply investigations, impeachment, and not focused on the hardworking American public, we will be there to defend the American public," McCarthy said.

Trump and McCarthy have spoken about leadership races recently, territory that Presidents usually avoid so not as to seem like they're alienating members of their own party. In private conversations, the President pushed for Jordan and another close conservative ally -- Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina -- to have the top Republican positions on key committees, according to a source familiar. McCarthy doesn't dole out those positions -- that's for the House GOP Steering Committee -- but plenty of people on the Steering Committee are loyal to McCarthy and would heed his word. As of Wednesday afternoon it was not clear where Jordan or Meadows would land.

Meadows told reporters on Wednesday that he believes Jordan has "earned" the spot of ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.

"I think Jim has earned the position for ranking member on Judiciary, but that's not my call. That's going to be the Steering Committee's call, and certainly as we look at that they will be making those decisions after Thanksgiving," he said.

Politico first reported Wednesday that Trump has privately pushed McCarthy to make a deal with Jordan.

A separate source confirmed to CNN that Jordan is interested in the ranking member position on the Judiciary Committee in order to check Democratic investigations that will be led by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York.

In his race for minority leader, McCarthy positioned himself as a close ally of Trump. In a letter announcing his bid, he wrote, "We need to lay the groundwork to regain the majority so that we can continue working alongside President Trump to fulfill our promise to fundamentally change Washington. I helped build a majority from a deeper hole than this and I have what it takes to do it again."

As minority leader, McCarthy will become the most visible face of opposition to the incoming Democratic majority. The next minority leader will have to decide whether and when the GOP minority might work to find common ground with Democrats and could also come under increased scrutiny from the President as the administration itself goes under a microscope in the new Democratic-controlled House.

The leadership election comes as incoming freshmen lawmakers are in town for orientation.

At Wednesday's news conference, McCarthy said he does not believe that the President is to blame for House Republicans losing their majority, but he conceded that the party has work to do to improve its standing with voters, particularly in suburban areas.

"History is against us," he said. "Any President in their first off-year election, on average, loses more than 30 seats."

But McCarthy added, "We took a beating inside the suburban areas. We're going to have to work harder. I think our message is going to have to be clearer. Our ideas are going to have to be stronger. We realize that, and we will work toward that effort."

This story has been updated.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 86722

Reported Deaths: 1994
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25264915
Ramsey10267314
Dakota6942124
Anoka5531131
Stearns362923
Washington345955
Scott232532
Olmsted223726
Nobles191416
Blue Earth15406
Wright14777
Carver13037
Rice12798
Mower12534
St. Louis123329
Clay119940
Sherburne105013
Kandiyohi9082
Winona72718
Lyon6244
Steele5062
Freeborn4903
Nicollet48716
Watonwan4844
Benton4793
Todd4722
Le Sueur4403
McLeod4332
Chisago4151
Waseca4118
Crow Wing40218
Otter Tail3674
Beltrami3624
Goodhue3179
Martin2809
Polk2574
Itasca25513
Becker2352
Carlton2261
Isanti2210
Douglas2191
Cottonwood2130
Pipestone2059
Pine1980
Morrison1841
Chippewa1821
Dodge1820
Sibley1663
Wabasha1640
Brown1582
Unassigned15752
Meeker1552
Murray1492
Yellow Medicine1421
Rock1390
Mille Lacs1333
Faribault1290
Cass1203
Jackson1201
Renville1176
Pennington1071
Houston1050
Roseau1050
Swift991
Fillmore980
Koochiching983
Kanabec958
Lincoln930
Redwood910
Stevens911
Pope810
Aitkin691
Hubbard650
Big Stone640
Wadena610
Grant574
Wilkin553
Norman510
Lake480
Marshall481
Mahnomen441
Red Lake370
Lac qui Parle360
Traverse290
Clearwater240
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson130
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 76924

Reported Deaths: 1241
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk14988255
Johnson490727
Woodbury475459
Black Hawk425184
Linn3640102
Story321417
Dallas263238
Scott261427
Dubuque251840
Buena Vista191812
Pottawattamie189437
Marshall175234
Sioux12243
Wapello122057
Webster117914
Muscatine105152
Clinton102418
Cerro Gordo97721
Plymouth97520
Crawford9444
Warren9186
Jasper72032
Des Moines7137
Marion6874
Tama67830
Carroll6085
Lee5727
Wright5491
Henry5104
Dickinson4666
Bremer4497
Boone4346
Washington41411
Louisa41314
Franklin33017
Hamilton3123
Mahaska30919
Delaware3053
Jackson2803
Floyd2793
Winneshiek2745
Clay2663
Hardin2661
Benton2611
Clarke2533
Butler2512
Winnebago24711
Emmet24210
Shelby2381
Allamakee2355
Jones2313
Poweshiek2308
Clayton2243
Lyon2233
Buchanan2181
Cedar2101
Guthrie2095
Chickasaw1970
Kossuth1950
Grundy1932
Madison1922
Howard1764
Sac1760
Fayette1751
Iowa1741
Cherokee1732
Mitchell1720
Hancock1702
Humboldt1682
Harrison1642
Calhoun1612
Mills1541
Pocahontas1492
Palo Alto1480
Monroe1409
Page1400
Jefferson1291
Lucas1296
Cass1262
Monona1251
Taylor1171
Appanoose1163
Osceola1130
Union1123
Davis1104
Van Buren1081
Worth990
Keokuk841
Montgomery845
Greene790
Ida770
Wayne762
Fremont730
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