McMorris Rodgers elected chairwoman of House GOP conference

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) was elected chairwoman of the House GOP conference on Wednesday, a victory for party leaders over insurgent conservatives.

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McMorris Rodgers had received the quiet support of the highest-ranking GOP lawmakers in her closely watched bid for the fourth-ranking slot among House Republicans after Democrats won solid majorities of female voters in last week’s election.

The Washington state Republican, who has served two terms as the conference’s vice chairwoman, defeated Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a favorite of conservatives, in a closed-door election among House Republicans.

Price, a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, had the support of Reps. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the recent GOP nominee for vice president, and Jeb Hensarling, the outgoing conference chairman.

Ryan said he was not disappointed in Price's loss, which some commentators said hurt Ryan's clout in the conference.

"Not at all. Cathy is going to be great. Tom is just a good friend," he said.

During the campaign season, Democrats pounded Republicans on social issues including abortion and contraception.

Senate Republicans elected a slate of white men to their top five leadership positions on Wednesday, and some GOP lawmakers feared the House would follow suit at a time when Republicans have said they need to find ways to reach out to women and minorities.

Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) will remain in the top three slots among House Republicans in the upcoming Congress, as expected.

As part of her pitch to fellow Republicans, McMorris Rodgers cited her fundraising chops and her work using social media to help circulate the Republican message. She had the support of several GOP committee leaders in her bid, including Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), the head of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) was elected GOP conference vice chairwoman.

Following the vote, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the House GOP "reelected the same failed Tea Party Republican leadership."

"With record-low approval and after voter rejection at the polls, House Republicans just doubled down on more of the same priorities that protect millionaires at the expense of the middle class,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement.

Boehner also announced today that he has nominated Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) to chair the House Committee on Rules for the 113th Congress, replacing Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.).

"In Pete, we have a chairman who is not only respected by both parties, but a true public servant who will help ensure the House operates in a way that reflects the will, the priorities, and the expectations of the American people," Boehner said in a statement.

--This report was originally filed at 4:04 p.m. and last updated at 4:58 p.m.