There’s no longer any suspense over what role U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise will play in the next Congress. With control now firmly in Democratic hands, the current majority whip will not be eligible to move up to majority leader or even House speaker, at least not in the next two years. He’s already told his colleagues that he’ll run for minority whip, which puts a challenge to current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for the GOP’s top post off the table.
Another Louisiana congressman could be in line for a higher-profile post, though. U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson of Benton, a former state lawmaker who just won reelection to his second term, is competing to chair the Republican Study Committee, a position that once helped elevate Scalise’s profile. The group is essentially a large caucus of House conservatives, but is more establishment-minded than the renegade Freedom Caucus. Others who’ve held the post include Vice President Mike Pence, back when he served in Congress.
Johnson has one opponent, California’s Tom McClintock. Despite his short tenure in Congress, Johnson may have an edge because he has a background as a constitutional lawyer and because he launched his campaign earlier than McClintock, according to the Washington publication Roll Call.
Soon after joining Congress, Johnson and Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist formed an Honor and Civility Caucus aimed at tempering the tone in Washington. Judge for yourself how that worked out.
In the meantime, Johnson’s Study Committee colleagues will gather Friday to decide whether he’ll be the next Louisianan to watch on Capitol Hill.