As Congress Taps Leaders, House’s McCarthy Fends Off Rival

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Last updated 11/14/2018 at 4:58 p.m. ET.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday chose Kevin McCarthy as their party’s leader for the new Congress that will convene in January, denying the top post to conservative Jim Jordan.

Representative McCarthy, whom President Donald Trump sometimes calls “my Kevin,” will lead party colleagues against an incoming Democratic House majority. Voters ended the Republicans’ hold on the House in the Nov. 6 elections and handed it to the Democrats.

Despite heavy Republican losses in last week’s elections, McCarthy touted his party’s legislative accomplishments and slammed Democrats. “We know that Democrats have a plan. They want to disrupt. They want to try to impeach” and overturn Republican achievements.

McCarthy, however, acknowledged that Republicans have to work hard to recapture the support of suburban voters who switched over to support Democratic candidates.

In the contest for party leadership, California’s McCarthy easily defeated Ohio’s Jordan in a 159-43 vote. Jordan arranged television commercials and other advertising to support his campaign for House leader, an unusual step.

McCarthy had been House majority leader, while Jordan is a former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a break-away conservative faction.

Holding a majority of the 435 seats in the House or the 100 seats in the Senate brings more money and staff than the minority party gets, as well as control of each chamber’s legislative agenda.

At the helm of the House, Democrats are expected to launch numerous investigations of Trump, his business interests and his family, while also challenging his agenda.

The Senate remains under Republican control. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer were re-elected to their respective top jobs in that chamber for 2019-2020, as expected.

The most closely watched leadership race in Congress is Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s bid to reclaim the job of House speaker, a role she had from 2007 to 2011, when she was the first woman in that post.

So far, she has no announced opponent, but some Democrats are dissatisfied with Pelosi. Their struggle over selecting a new speaker still has weeks to play out.

Among Democrats, a small but vocal group argues Pelosi, 78, should step aside. She has made clear she wants the speaker’s gavel again. She has led the party in the House for 16 years.

House Democrats will choose a party leader on Nov. 28 in a closed-door vote. A separate election for speaker will follow in early January with all House members – Democrats and Republicans – casting votes.

Nine centrist House Democrats have told Pelosi their votes for speaker are conditional on whether she embraces House rule changes that would encourage more consideration of bipartisan legislation. They asked her to commit to the changes by Friday.

The votes of the nine, members of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus,” could be pivotal on the House floor, where Pelosi will need a majority of all House members to become speaker again.

Caucus Co-chairman Representative Josh Gottheimer told Reuters the group was talking with Pelosi. He said she seemed eager for reform, but the group was asking for a public commitment from her because “the specifics matter.”

Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi released a statement saying she would continue to work with the group to “develop changes to the rules that will break the gridlock in Washington.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell and Amanda Becker; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and James Dalgleish)

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Madison Dibble
Admin

It looks like the GOP is pretty unified behind these leaders. I don’t know if it will play out the same way for House Democrats. They may have their hands full with some of the more progressive members of the caucus.

Rocky Drummond
Member

The current consensus is that she doesn’t have the votes necessary, so, at some point, someone else is very likely to raise their hand(s).

Screwtape
Member

Yes, there’s a huge Dim schism. Not just by age and position on the political spectrum (who’s Lefter), but also by those who feel the party’s direction is either too extreme or not enough so.

Rocky Drummond
Member

Let it play out. The Republicans had to learn to deal with the whacko Tea Party and Freedom Caucus. Now it is the Democrats’ turn.

WhyNot
Member

Great! More posturing and making holier-than-thou statements about how American only republicans are!

Screwtape
Member

Honest question for you. Do you like the US, warts and all, or hope its position in the world changes, maybe for the worse?

It’s entirely possible to be Dim yet support the country, but badmouthing/holding in contempt your fellow citizens is projecting a not-inconsiderable amount of self-hatred as a “citizen”(which begs the question why someone who feels that way continues to live here). q.v. Sinema and others who have literally said they “hate” their constituents.

Patrick
Member

My vote is for Piglosi. The entertainment factor is high

Screwtape
Member

Nancy Lugosi has done a splendid job so far. Long may she reign.

The “face” of the Dims is a bunch of uber-rich, elitist, OLD (like pushing 80s), WHITE people.

One might be justified in asking what message this sends to their hoped for constituencies.

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