House Republicans Elect Kevin McCarthy for Minority Leader

Tor Anderbeck


The U.S. House of Representatives’ GOP caucus will soon be under the leadership of Californian Kevin McCarthy, the current majority leader. He will replace Paul Ryan as the top Republican, but only as minority leader due to the Democratic takeover of the House. McCarthy was elected to Congress in 2007 and rose to a leadership position in 2009. In 2015, he made a bid for Speaker but abruptly dropped out because he received opposition for not being conservative enough.

His victory did not come as a surprise, but there was a challenge from Jim Jordan of Ohio. Rep. Jordan, a co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus and strong ally of President Trump, was defeated 159-43. Jordan would have led the GOP farther to the right while McCarthy is likely to lead in a more moderate direction with openness towards bipartisanship. Now that he is defeated, Jordan is in the interesting position of ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. McCarthy also signaled his support for Trump, however, saying that “we can continue working alongside President Trump to fulfill our promise to fundamentally change Washington.” 

After the election McCarthy said, “I’m very humbled to have the privilege to be able to serve and lead this conference, we serve in a divided government and a divided country. Our goal is to unite us back together again. Our second goal will be to make sure we win the majority back.”

Winning back the majority, however, will not be an easy task. Even though the party of the sitting president loses an average of 30 seats in the House in its first midterm election, the Republicans are probably going to lose almost 40 when all of the races have been called.

News of McCarthy comes right after the announcements that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) retained their positions with little opposition. In addition, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA.) unanimously won re-election for the GOP’s number-two spot as whip and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) gaining the number-three spot as conference chairman and the sole woman in House Republican leadership. She is taking the position that her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held several decades ago. She hopes to lead a more powerful communications strategy, saying, “We’ve got to change the way that we operate and really in some ways be more aggressive, have more of a rapid response.”

On the other side of the aisle, Nancy Pelosi is still the most likely candidate for Speaker of the House, but resistance is growing. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) has signed, along with 17 other Democrats, a letter declaring her opposition to Pelosi and is considering running for Speaker. Rep. Seth Moulton recently stated that he was “100 percent confident” that Pelosi could not win, to which Pelosi responded with certainty that she would. According to Politico, many Democrats have expressed a desire for new leadership, but Nancy Pelosi is a veteran politician and a master at persuasion, so it is hard to predict the outcome.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are working as hard as ever to maintain and increase their power in Congress. With Democratic control of the House, the GOP will find its power more limited. However, the GOP also seems to be experiencing growing unity, especially in regard to allegiance to President Trump. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, appears to be growing less cohesive as many freshmen tend towards radical leftism while the senior members are more moderate.