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Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who leads a conservative faction, was chosen to be the new House majority whip.

Associated Press,

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was elected as the new majority leader on Thursday.

Associated Press,

New leaders face GOP schism

  • Article by: Paul Kane and Ed O’Keefe
  • Washington Post
  • June 19, 2014 - 9:13 PM

– House Republicans on Thursday overwhelmingly elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy to be majority leader and Rep. Steve Scalise to be majority whip, elevating a pair of lawmakers who promised a more open and conservative approach to running the chamber.

The new team will quickly have to confront some of the old challenges of trying to hold together a fractious GOP caucus going into the final stretch of legislation before the 2014 midterm elections.

‘Courage to lead’

McCarthy, a Californian aligned with the business-friendly establishment, said he wants to make the House GOP more open and effective.

“I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen,” he said. “And we’ll turn this country around.”

Scalise, a Louisianian who leads an increasingly populist caucus of conservatives, promised to hold the party true to its core principles.

“We’ve got solid, conservative solutions that are going to solve the problems facing our country,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, now has a green leadership team surrounding him, with several fiscal policy fights on the horizon that could again divide the GOP caucus as it has often been since it reclaimed the majority in 2010.

‘We’re evolving’

With fewer than 40 days on the legislative calendar before November, the House has a small list of must-pass bills that includes several potential pitfalls: Funding for highway programs is drying up; the Export-Import Bank will lose the authority to provide key loans for U.S. companies competing overseas, and a stopgap federal budget must be approved to avoid another government shutdown.

How these matters are handled will go a long way toward determining whether the new leaders will face challenges for their jobs after the November midterms.

Unlike departing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., McCarthy and Scalise have no connection to the previous generation of party bosses whose images have been shredded by today’s austerity-focused conservatives.

The first order of business, the new leaders said, is forging unity after an election Thursday that was prompted by Cantor’s loss in Virginia’s GOP primary last week.

McCarthy beat Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho. Scalise defeated Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois and Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.

Some conservatives have suggested that they will muster a broad challenge to the top leaders in the fall.

“We’re evolving our leadership in a conservative direction,” said Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, who said that the new team eventually will be replaced with “more conservative-leaning members.”

© 2014 Star Tribune