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GOP prepping Steve Scalise to become speaker should McCarthy fail: report

Republicans are set to take control of the House in early January.

Published: December 21, 2022 4:02pm

Updated: December 21, 2022 4:51pm

House Republican lawmakers have reportedly approached Louisiana GOP Rep. Steve Scalise about a potential bid for leadership of the lower chamber should House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy fail to secure enough support to step into the role of Speaker of the House.

McCarthy has struggled to win the support of a majority of lower chamber lawmakers and many House conservatives have withheld their support in a bid to secure concessions from the California Republican. A disappointing midterm showing has left the party with an incoming majority of just 222 seats, leaving McCarthy with little room to maneuver. To become speaker, McCarthy will need 218 votes. 

While McCarthy has remained resolute in his bid to claim the speaker's gavel, many lawmakers privately worry that he will be unable to appease his detractors and have begun to look to alternative candidates for the post, albeit in private.

Sources have told Politico that some Republicans have approached incoming House Majority Leader Scalise, the party's No. 2 in Congress, asking him to "be ready" should the torch fall to him.

One source has, however, told the outlet that Scalise would only pursue a leadership bid if McCarthy had stepped aside already.

"Does he want to be speaker? Absolutely. But is he going to screw Kevin? Absolutely not," the source said.

Scalise's appeal with conservative lawmakers has drawn some skepticism from McCarthy, whom he has publicly and repeatedly backed. One House lawmaker seemed to suggest that the California Republican was working to sideline his Louisiana peer, telling the outlet that such a tactic "seems small, and it reeks of desperation."

Republicans are set to take control of the House in early January.

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