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Senate leaders keep posts; McCarthy gets top House GOP position

By
Clyde Hughes and Danielle Haynes
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to the media following House Republican leadership elections for the 116th Congress, at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to the media following House Republican leadership elections for the 116th Congress, at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Republicans in the House elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy as their new leader Wednesday while Senate leaders kept their posts for the new Congress.

The Californian represented defeated Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio 159-43. McCarthy replaces current House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as leader of the party in the lower chamber. Ryan announced his retirement from Congress at the end of his current term.

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Republicans will be the minority in the House for the first time since 2011.

As expected, Senate Republican leader Mitchell McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New york will continue in their positions. It will be McConnell's seventh term and Schumer's second.

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For Republicans, South Dakota Sen. John Thune was promoted to party whip, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso became conference chairman and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt will be the party's policy chairman.

For Democrats, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin remains party whip, Washington Sen. Patty Murray assistant Democratic leader and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow the Democrats' policy and communications committee chair.

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McCarthy made his pitch for the job to House Republicans in a recent letter, saying he's is in the best position to lead the party against a Democratic majority, NPR reported.

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"We need to lay the groundwork to regain the majority so that we can continue working alongside President Trump to fulfill our promise to fundamentally change Washington," the California lawmaker wrote in the letter. "I helped build a majority from a deeper hole than this and I have what it takes to do it again."

Jordan, a member of the GOP Freedom Caucus, told party members he would be the best leader to stand up to what's expected to be an aggressive Democratic strategy once they take the leadership reins.

"I think we're entering a world we haven't really seen," Jordan said, according to NPR. "I think it's going to take an attitude and an intensity about standing up for the truth and fighting."

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana won a unanimous vote to become whip, the same position he held as the majority party.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, ran unopposed for Republican conference chair, which was formerly held by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

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House Democrats will elect their nominee to serve as speaker and other top leadership positions after they officially take the majority later this month, NPR reported.

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