Washington – The campaign for U.S. House majority leader by Majority Whip Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, took a couple of hits Monday when two influential House Republicans endorsed one of Scalise’s rivals, Tom Price, of Georgia.
The endorsements came from Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, and Jeb Hensarling, of Texas.
Ryan is chairman of the powerful Ways & Means Committee and was Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012. Ryan is widely respected by House Republicans and is often discussed as a potential House leader himself, but he has decided to remain as committee chairman — a post he would have to surrender if he entered leadership.
Hensarling is chairman of the Financial Services Committee. He is considered part of the party’s conservative wing and is well regarded in conservative circles. He, too, has declined to seek a leadership post on his own.
Scalise’s bid for the job of majority leader — the No. 2 post in the House hierarchy — was set in motion by the surprise announcement Friday by House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, that he will step down from the top spot at the end of October. Scalise said he will try to move up from whip, which is the No. 3 position, if the current majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, of California, moves up to speaker, as he is favored to do.
The speaker’s position is constitutional, and voted on by the full House in public session. The posts in the majority leadership are filled by Republican members voting by secret ballot.
Scalise, 49, was elected in June 2014 as whip, responsible for counting and corralling Republican votes for legislation endorsed by the leadership. The majority leader controls the flow of legislation on the floor and consults more closely with the speaker on policy.