House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), (center), speaks to the media while flanked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), (right), and House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA) (left), after a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill, on March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.
With that announcement came even more intense speculation that House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Metairie could make a bid for the post. McCarthy, R-Calif., now the second-ranking House Republican, is expected to vie with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. Republicans, including Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, pointed to McCarthy as a front-runner. "But we'll see if that happens or not". That fear seemed at least partially realized when Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) said that he too would be retiring from Congress minutes after the Ryan news broke.
Whether the party was united or not, Ryan's announcement could not have been more ill-timed, coming just months before a contentious midterm election that may wipe out the Republican majority in the House. But others said the race could stretch until after the election clarifies the number, ideology and mood of House Republicans. But he was one of Trump's earliest and most loyal congressional supporters in the 2016 presidential race.
McCarthy, 53, is his party's No. 2 House leader and was one of the earliest and steadiest backers of Trump's presidential campaign. Republicans were split over the bill.
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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Vice President Mike Pence chaired the meeting Wednesday afternoon. A NASA report in 2016 said the US would spend $950 million to buy 12 seats for crew members in 2017 and 2018.
Lawmakers and GOP donors want a leader who can raise money, and there McCarthy has an advantage.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to offer support for anyone in particular for the speakership at he Wednesday briefing. "So I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on Kevin McCarthy to step aside", said Dr. Robert Collins of Dillard University in New Orleans.
"(McCarthy) called me once over the break, but I talk with those guys all the time", Jordan told McClatchy. Bishop has said his next term in Congress will be his last.
Another Republican said McCarthy doesn't have enough support among GOP conservatives to win a majority of the party's votes in the House.
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If Democrats prevail in the November elections, the job opening will be for minority leader, a much less powerful position. As things stand, McCarthy appears to be the favorite not only among the membership but also in the mind of perhaps the most important voice in the Republican Party, President Trump.
"We're getting way ahead of ourselves", Scalise said. "And we did not do that four weeks ago on that big omnibus spending package, not even close".
To prevail, McCarthy, from Democratic-leaning California, will have to ensure sufficient support from conservative Freedom Caucus members who hold sway, and who can use their influence to extract concessions.
In a statement at the time, the Freedom Caucus said they saw McCarthy as a "continuation of the status quo" from Boehner.
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Ultimately, Ryan stepped in to take the speaker's gavel at the urging of his House GOP colleagues.