Columns

McCarthy Fends Off Jordan Challenge to Lead GOP Caucus in Next Congress

Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) leave the House Republican leadership election in Longworth Building on Nov. 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will assume that role in the 116th Congress, fending off a leadership challenge from House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in closed-door caucus elections today.

The vote was 159 to 43 in McCarthy’s defeat of Jordan. Caucus elections were held even with the results of eight House races still outstanding.

“I will tell you our No. 1 goal is to get America continuing moving forward. We serve in a divided government, in a divided country,” McCarthy said after his victory. “Our goal is to unite us back together again. Our second goal will be to make sure we win the majority back. Look, we know the challenge of what we’re working on. We want to hit the ground running.”

“We know the Democrats have a plan. They want to disrupt, they want to try to impeach, and they want to stall what achievements we’ve been able to move forward,” he added. “But we know America is too great for such a small vision. We will work through every state, we know where we have our challenges, to win back in suburban areas, and we will do just that.”

Jordan told reporters that he “knew it was an uphill fight all the way” and was “encouraged” by the votes he received.

“You know, the lay of the land is just never easy when you’re taking on the team in place,” he said.

President Trump is pushing for Jordan, as a loyalist, to be named ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Leadership posts for the committees will be selected after Thanksgiving by the Republican Steering Committee, which is aligned with establishment leaders instead of the Freedom Caucus.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was elected minority whip, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) will be the new conference chair, and Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) was picked as conference vice chair. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) will be conference secretary and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) is the new policy committee chair.

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) will lead the campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“We have a new role and a new mission in the House, and this group is well-equipped to meet the challenge,” said retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “I know they will defend the significant policy achievements of the last two years, find areas of common ground where possible, and draw a stark contrast with the new liberal majority. This team has the experience, skill, and steadiness to guide us back to the majority, and I congratulate them all on their new positions.”

“In particular, it gives me great confidence as I depart knowing this conference is in good hands with my friend Kevin McCarthy at the top,” Ryan added. “Bright days are ahead for this team.”