House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) announced a bid to become the next House majority leader on Wednesday as the GOP appears likely to win a narrow majority in the lower chamber.
“The American people deserve a House of Representatives that can move the agenda that was promised to them on the campaign trail,” Scalise said in a letter addressed to his GOP colleagues in the House.
“As your Majority Leader, I will work relentlessly to usher our vision through the House and show the country how conservative ideas can solve the problems that families are facing,” he added.
He said he has a proven track record of bringing together a wide range of viewpoints in the GOP to build consensus and pointed to conservative legislative successes like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an updated version of NAFTA signed into law in 2020.
Scalise also mentioned successfully keeping the Republican caucus completely unified in opposition to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act. His current job as whip is to rally votes in favor or against legislation among Republican members of the House.
Republicans appear to be in a position to take a majority in the House following the midterm elections. But their margin will likely be much narrower than originally expected as Democratic candidates defied expectations from polls in many races across the country.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed confidence that the GOP would take control of the House in comments he made at a midterm election night party early Wednesday morning. But the lack of a red wave in the midterms put a damper on the night.
A smaller House Republican conference may make McCarthy’s path to become Speaker narrower, but Scalise said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday that he would not challenge McCarthy and would support him for Speaker.
He emphasized in the interview that the “bottom line” is there will be a Republican House majority.
He said in his letter to GOP colleagues that he wants to empower committees and individual members to “fully participate” in Congress.
Scalise said he plans to use House committees to turn “our bold, conservative agenda” into legislative action. He said he wants to work with committee chairs to balance the urgency of taking action on certain initiatives with the need for “quality and thoughtfulness” in the legislation.
Scalise also vowed to hold the Biden administration “on notice” with committee chairs.
“We must be relentless in our oversight of this Administration,” he said.
“From the politicization of the Justice Department to the job crushing regulations coming from every agency, we need to shine a bright light on the actions and policy failures of this administration.”
Additionally, Scalise said he wants to create a legislative process based on “regular order” and member input. He added that he wants to end proxy voting that the House established amid the COVID-19 pandemic and follow an orderly calendar so members know when they should plan to be in Washington, D.C., and in their districts.
Scalise also said he wants to prioritize quality over quantity in regard to legislation. He slammed Democrats for pushing through legislation without committee action, no Congressional Budget Office score and limited time for debate on the House floor.
He said a “predictable, delicate” process should be implemented so the GOP can focus on quality.
“The American people have been clear that it is time for a new direction in this country,” Scalise said. “I am proud to be a part of this new House Republican Majority, and am confident that we will rise to the occasion, pull together, and deliver on our bold, conservative agenda.”
Updated at 2:43 p.m.