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Rep. Steve Scalise vows not to run against Kevin McCarthy for House speaker

Scalise vows not to challenge McCarthy for speaker
Credit: Deborah Barfield Berry, USA TODAY
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., (left) talks Tuesday with Politico's Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman.

WASHINGTON — Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise said again Tuesday he will not run against Rep. Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House.

Scalise praised McCarthy, saying the GOP majority leader from California would be good in the House's top leadership post.

“He’s got a very good relationship with President Trump," Scalise said at a Politico Playbook panel, where he was the featured guest. “As majority leader… he schedules the floor and we’ve moved a very strong agenda through the House.”

Scalise, the majority whip and the third-ranking GOP member in the House, has been touted as a possible successor to Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.

House Republicans need to hold onto their majority in the midterms to retain the speakership in the next Congress.

Scalise, who has moved quickly up the leadership ladder, has been more in the national spotlight since last summer, after he was nearly killed during a shooting at a congressional charity baseball practice. He was hospitalized for months but returned to work last fall, with the nation watching his recovery.

Before becoming majority whip, Scalise led the powerful Republican Study Committee, the largest faction of conservatives in the GOP conference.

The jockeying is underway for the speaker post. Ryan has backed McCarthy to succeed him.

But Scalise allies said he could still be a contender.

While Scalise has stuck to his vow not to run against McCarthy, political observers have said that doesn’t rule out a bid if McCarthy drops out, as he did in 2015 when then-Speaker John Boehner left, or if Scalise picks up enough support, particularly from conservatives, to pull off a win.

Despite some calls for Ryan to step down early, Scalise said he thinks the leader will stay through the fall.

“He’s continuing to carry through on our agenda, working with the President and raising the money that it would take to compete in those competitive districts that are going to be the difference between who has the majority in November," he said.