House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping

House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping
© Greg Nash

House Republicans are showing little appetite for a wholesale change in their leadership team after an anti-Trump wave last week swept them out of power for the first time in eight years.

Two of their top three leaders are expected to return as leaders in the new Congress.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyGOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand GOP floats short-term CR with B for border wall MORE (R-Calif.) is projected to easily defeat conservative House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMeadows looks to make his move Comey’s confession: dossier not verified before, or after, FISA warrant Republicans missed best shot on keeping promise to cut spending MORE (R-Ohio) on Wednesday in the race for minority leader of the GOP’s diminished conference.

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Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn The Money: House GOP struggles to get votes for B in wall funds | Fallout from Oval Office clash | Dems say shutdown would affect 800K workers | House passes 7 billion farm bill GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand Dem knocks GOP colleagues: Blame 'yourself' for unfavorable Google search results MORE (R-La.) is slated to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyScalise backs Stefanik's push to help GOP women in primaries GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women MORE (R-Wyo.) poised to succeed Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris Rodgers‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker Liz Cheney wins House GOP leadership post MORE (R-Wash.) as GOP conference chair — a post Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held more than three decades earlier.

Both Scalise and Cheney are running unopposed. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: House GOP struggles to get votes for B in wall funds | Fallout from Oval Office clash | Dems say shutdown would affect 800K workers | House passes 7 billion farm bill GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand House GOP blocks lawmakers from forcing Yemen war votes for rest of year MORE (R-Wis.) is retiring from Congress in January and has endorsed McCarthy.

For many rank-and-file Republicans, now is not the time to rock the boat by replacing the entire leadership team. They believe their message of lower taxes, border security and less regulation is a good one — they just need to do a better job selling it to win back the majority in 2020.

“We’ve got a good team. We just need to be reminded that we’ve got a great product,” Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsBush hailed for principles as lawmakers pay respects House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Veterans can help meet the physician shortage in the VA health system, but this policy is a barrier MORE (R-Texas), the self-described “car salesman of Congress,” told The Hill on Monday. “Sometimes you spend too much time beating down your competitor rather than saying what you’re about. We need to go sell our product and sell our conservative values.”

McCarthy, the 53-year-old affable, back-slapping Californian, is exuding confidence that he has the minority leader race wrapped up. He needs to win over only a simple majority of his roughly 200 GOP colleagues in the closed-door, secret-ballot election for minority leader.

In media interviews and phone calls with almost every House GOP lawmaker, McCarthy has been making the case that he’s best positioned to protect President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' MORE against Democratic investigations, continue to grow the economy and lead Republicans back to the majority in two years.

“We had to fight to win this majority back in 2010. I was a big part of that. That was a much bigger hill to climb. I believe we can win this majority back,” McCarthy said in a Fox News interview over the weekend.

“I look at what the Democrats’ agenda is: It’s investigate the president, trying to impeach him, abolishing ICE,” he said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “America is too great to be led by such a small vision.”

After months of behind-the-scenes jockeying and rampant speculation about a potential shake-up, few GOP leadership challenges have materialized. Scalise, who had flirted with a possible bid for minority leader, ultimately decided not to take on his friendly rival McCarthy, settling instead for the party’s No. 2 post.

McMorris Rodgers, the No. 4 Republican and highest-ranking GOP woman on Capitol Hill, had been set to take on Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryGOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand Veteran Capitol Hill aide Parker Poling to serve as next NRCC executive director Dole salute embodies emotion of Bush farewell MORE (R-N.C.) for the majority whip slot. But once Republicans lost the House, McMorris Rodgers decided she wouldn’t run for a fourth term in leadership.

McHenry, meanwhile, has decided to run for the top GOP spot on the influential House Financial Services Committee rather than climb the leadership ladder in the minority.

Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerCharities fear hit from Trump tax law during holidays Dems seek to overhaul voting rules in Florida legal fight  Election Countdown: Abrams ends fight in Georgia governor's race | Latest on Florida recount | Booker, Harris head to campaign in Mississippi Senate runoff | Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), is running unopposed to replace Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsFox News host: Comey claiming memory lapses ‘not fair’ to people with real memory problems GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules Criminal justice reform splits 2020 Democrats MORE (R-Ga.) as GOP conference vice chairman; Collins is running for the top GOP spot on the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Record numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress MORE (R-Mo.) will continue in his leadership role for another two years as conference secretary.

Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerNorth Carolina on cusp of House race reset GOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' Democratic strategist says GOP needs ‘exorcism’ after House midterm losses MORE (R-Minn.) is slated to be elected the next chairman of the House GOP’s campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, for the 2020 cycle after Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisGOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules Democrats make legislative gains over GOP in redistricting battle Midterm results shake up national map MORE (R-Ill.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerGOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' GOP women face steeper climb in Trump era Midterm results shake up national map MORE (R-Mo.) and Mimi WaltersMarian (Mimi) Elaine WaltersRyan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results Election Countdown: Abrams ends fight in Georgia governor's race | Latest on Florida recount | Booker, Harris head to campaign in Mississippi Senate runoff | Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority Warren congratulates former student and researcher on election to Congress MORE (R-Calif.) decided not to run.

But don’t expect the House Freedom Caucus, the group of far-right hard-liners close to Trump, to be cut of out power completely. The conservative group has caused countless headaches for past GOP leaders, so McCarthy and his team may want to offer Freedom Caucus leaders new roles where they can direct their wrath and energy at Democrats rather than their GOP leadership.

The roughly 30-member Freedom Caucus will make up a larger share of the GOP conference in the 116th Congress after centrist Republicans suffered heavy losses at the polls on election night.

Under one scenario, the leadership-aligned Steering Committee could hand Jordan or Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsConservative leader Meadows will not be White House chief of staff Trump says he's considering 10 to 12 contenders for chief of staff Schiff writes mock White House chief of staff job description MORE (R-N.C.) the top GOP spot on either the Judiciary or the Oversight and Government Reform committees. Other Freedom Caucus members may land coveted spots on A-list panels like the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce committees or win subcommittee ranking member slots.

So far, a pair of Freedom Caucus members — Reps. Gary PalmerGary James PalmerMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Conservative groups call for new slate of House GOP leaders MORE (R-Ala.) and David SchweikertDavid SchweikertMcCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Hillicon Valley: Trump considers revoking Obama-era officials' security clearances | Record lobbying quarter for Facebook, Amazon | Why Hollywood wants Google hauled before Congress | New worries about supply chain cyber threats MORE (R-Ariz.) — are the only ones running for GOP Policy Committee chairman, guaranteeing the caucus a spot at McCarthy’s leadership table.

Schweikert, a policy wonk who already serves on the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means panel, has been endorsed by FreedomWorks, an outside conservative group.

It’s unclear whether Meadows, a close Trump ally, will opt to remain as Freedom Caucus chairman after two years at the helm. If he steps aside, Rep. Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonFractious GOP vows to unify in House minority Three Republicans battle to succeed Meadows at House Freedom Caucus House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping MORE (R-Ohio) or Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryThree Republicans battle to succeed Meadows at House Freedom Caucus Democratic gains erasing House GOP in California House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping MORE (R-Pa.) could assume the role, though Perry represents a district that just got more competitive after a redistricting, and he might not want to lead the ultra-conservative group.

In the race to replace Walker as RSC chairman, one-term Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonHillicon Valley: Russian-linked hackers may have impersonated US officials | Trump signs DHS cyber bill | Prosecutors inadvertently reveal charges against Assange | Accenture workers protest border enforcement work | App mines crypto for bail bonds McCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general Rep. Mike Johnson wins race for RSC chairman MORE (R-La.) is squaring off against five-term, 62-year-old Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockRep. Mike Johnson wins race for RSC chairman House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping House committee votes to relax Endangered Species Act MORE (R-Calif.). GOP insiders say Johnson, 46, is the favorite; he is close to fellow Louisianan Scalise, a former RSC chairman, and will have the GOP whip’s vote-counting operation working in his favor.

The RSC election will be held separately on Wednesday.