GOP lawmaker wants to force leadership candidates to vacate posts
© Getty Images

Rep. Lynn WestmorelandLeon (Lynn) Acton WestmorelandEconomy and health intertwined in the fight against coronavirus Juan Williams: GOP to blame for civility's breakdown Veteran GOP lawmaker Westmoreland to retire MORE (R-Ga.) wants the House GOP to change its rules so leadership candidates running in next week’s elections must vacate their current positions.

That would mean House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP slated to unveil agenda ahead of election House panel details 'serious' concerns around Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin elections Scalise hit with ethics complaint over doctored Barkan video MORE (R-La.), for instance, wouldn’t automatically get to keep his current post if he lost the race for majority leader.

Westmoreland said the four-way race between Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (N.C.), House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas), Rep. Dennis Ross (Fla.) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) for majority whip tilted the leader race in Scalise’s favor. 

ADVERTISEMENT

As it stands, if Scalise isn’t promoted to majority leader, there won’t be a race for majority whip to replace him. Scalise currently faces one opponent, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceConspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Chris Christie Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE (R-Ga.), for majority leader.

“You’ve got four people running for whip. And it’s really not fair, because those four people with all their supporters are going to want the whip to move out,” Westmoreland said in an interview.

The move from Westmoreland, a leadership ally, reflects the concern among many Republicans that allowing incumbent members of leadership to stay put — even if they lose bids for promotions — will limit the breadth of a shake-up in the aftermath of Boehner's resignation.

Under Westmoreland’s proposed rule change, leadership candidates would have to run for reelection to their current positions. 

“Now, if in the case of Scalise, if he did lose, which we don’t know, he could still come back and run for the whip position. But it wouldn’t be his automatically,” Westmoreland said.

Westmoreland said House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) indicated to him that she would allow a vote on his proposal next week.

However, a spokesman for McMorris Rodgers would not confirm when such a vote might occur. House Republicans will gather behind closed doors next Thursday to select their new leadership to replace departing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other positions that subsequently become open.