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Tags: steve scalise | kevin mccarthy | house speaker

Scalise Told to 'Be Ready' If McCarthy's Speakership Bid Falters

By    |   Wednesday, 21 December 2022 01:24 PM EST

As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., struggles to round up the votes needed to become House speaker, a group of Republican lawmakers has approached Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., about running for the chamber's top job should McCarthy's bid falter.

According to several GOP members and aides Politico spoke to, the group's message is simple.

"Steve, just be ready," one member, who is currently backing McCarthy, told the outlet late Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Scalise ran uncontested for the position of majority leader in the next Congress and "could be a good consensus leader if things don't go well for Kevin," the lawmaker reportedly said.

According to Republican members and aides familiar with the discussions, some of the conservatives opposed to a McCarthy speakership have privately communicated that message to Scalise in recent days. While they have repeated the same requirements outlined for McCarthy, they have also indicated that they find Scalise to be preferable.

Growing talk of a Scalise speakership has put the Louisiana lawmaker in a quandary. According to Politico, he is very much aware that he cannot be seen as working against McCarthy, or even discussing the idea, as doing so could antagonize the GOP conference and possibly jeopardize his own ascent.

Lawmakers are anxious for a backup plan, however, in case the drama to claim the speaker's gavel upends the Republican House takeover next month.

According to Politico, Scalise has not been organizing support or making calls for a potential run and has been in, what one supporter called, "listening mode."

"Does he want to be speaker? Absolutely," another person close to Scalise told the outlet. "But is he going to screw Kevin? Absolutely not."

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told the New York Post that his relationship with Scalise is "on the ascent," and sources said the McCarthy foe would happily back Scalise in a floor fight.

Rep. Bob Good, of Virginia, told Politico that, while the anti-McCarthy faction has had a "number of private conversations" with potential alternatives, it would be difficult to reveal names because those people would then be exposed to the blowback that Scalise might already be feeling.

Axios reported on Tuesday that five of the 54 recent Republican statements backing McCarthy made some mention of Scalise.

"Steve Scalise is a dear friend and I thank God every day for his miraculous survival from his attempted murder," Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., wrote in one, referring to Scalise's near-assassination in 2017. "But, on January 3rd, first or last ballot, I'm committed to our Speaker-elect Kevin McCarthy."

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As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy struggles to round up the votes needed to become House speaker, a group of Republican lawmakers has approached Minority Whip Steve Scalise about running for the chamber's top job should McCarthy's bid falter.
steve scalise, kevin mccarthy, house speaker
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2022-24-21
Wednesday, 21 December 2022 01:24 PM
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