House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is coming under fire over reports that he is quietly being prepped to make a run for House Speaker as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) looks to wrap up the remaining support that he needs to get the position next month.
McCarthy is widely viewed as the Republican choice best able to bring together his party’s various factions. A consensus builder is critical given that the GOP eked out a slim 222-213 majority in last month’s midterm elections.
Politico reported last week that a small group of lawmakers approached Scalise and told him to “just be ready” in case McCarthy did not win over the five Republicans still holding out on backing his bid for House Speaker.
The Republicans who have come out publicly against McCarthy include Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
Republicans in top inner circles have warned against efforts trying to boost Scalise for the position.
“Team Hageman repeatedly asked Congressman Scalise for assistance and unlike the rest of House Leadership, he refused to lift a finger against Cheney,” a GOP operative closely involved in the race against soon-to-be former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) told The Daily Wire. “It was baffling, almost like he was under her spell.”
A former Trump White House aide involved in immigration negotiations on Capitol Hill warned that Scalise is not solid on immigration, which comes as the southern border has been in a state of crisis the entire time that President Joe Biden has been in the White House.
“We always knew what we were dealing with during any immigration debate — behind the scenes, Scalise was always trying to push any bill to the left and loosen amnesty restrictions,” the former aide told The Daily Wire.
Scalise has also faced opposition from notable conservative media personalities online, including political commentator John Cardillo, who wrote: “Scalise never condemned Liz Cheney, and in fact never threw support behind her opponent.”
Scalise never condemned Liz Cheney, and in fact never threw support behind her opponent. https://t.co/GoP4qTCudT
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) December 26, 2022
Podcast host Jack Posobiec added, “Amnesty is a redline for the MAGA movement.”
Amnesty is a redline for the MAGA movement https://t.co/ZP9esTMnfW
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) December 26, 2022
Scalise has, at least publicly, thrown his support behind McCarthy in multiple interviews, including last week, when he told Fox News, “I support Kevin.”
“There are a lot of conversations going on, and Kevin is working on getting there,” Scalise said. “He is going to get there, and that’s just been an ongoing conversation this week. We have had a number of additional meetings with leadership and rank-and-file members going through rules changes.”
“You can’t format chairmanship, you can’t set up an agenda without a speaker,” he added. “We have got [to] first elect a speaker and then get to work. So, Kevin is meeting with all of those members that you mentioned. We’re meeting with a lot of them as a leadership team to go through rules changes, and Kevin is meeting with them individually as well.”