WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, the two Republicans who moved up the ladder of leadership in the House Thursday, positioned themselves as harbingers of change for a Congress and country in need of fresh ideas.
McCarthy dispatched Rep. Raul Labrador in his bid to replace outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was defeated in his primary re-election last week. The California Republican, who currently serves as the majority whip, was able to quickly line up support after Cantor announced he was stepping down.
"America is struggling," he told a mob of reporters after the vote. "We're struggling with a stagnant economy, a failed health care law, and so many are living paycheck to paycheck. They are looking for individuals that put people before politics."
"I make one promise: I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen," he said.
Scalise, R-La., the chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, will replace McCarthy as majority whip. He defeated current chief deputy whip Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., despite predictions that Roskam would force a runoff.
"I'm looking forward to bringing a fresh new voice to our leadership table and joining with this team to help confront the challenges that people all across this country are facing," Scalise said. "We've got solid conservative solutions that are going to solve the problems facing our country."
In the 10 days from Cantor's stunning defeat to the vote, conservatives had insisted one of their own join the leadership.
"We built a strong team that was representative our entire conference," Scalise said. "This is a win for America because we are going to be a more united team moving forward."
The new leadership, rounded out by Speaker John Boehner and Roskam, will govern for just 12 legislative days once Cantor steps down on July 31. Congress will be out on recess for much of August, September and October, and new elections will take place after the midterms in November.