Scalise contacting members to gauge support for speakership bid

Scalise contacting members to gauge support for speakership bid

Majority Leader Steve Scalise is reaching out to members to gauge whether they would support him for speaker, according to three people familiar with the conversations.

While Scalise had asserted he would support McCarthy if he ran again, it was an open secret that the two had a strained relationship and the Louisianan was interested in the top job. And some members are already signaling they would back his bid.

“Steve Scalise is our leader. If he wants it, then I think that it’s likely that he will be the leader — the speaker nominee,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.).

Scalise’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked about a possible run hours earlier, Scalise did not rule it out to reporters: “I enjoy working with Tom (Emmer) and our leadership team, and we have a lot of work to get done. But I haven’t made any formal announcements.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who launched the motion to oust McCarthy, said Scalise is someone he might back for the job. Others had voiced concerns about Scalise’s health status, as he is currently battling cancer and undergoing treatment, but Gaetz said that wasn’t a concern.

“I’m not here to make a judgment on where Mr. Scalise stands with his rehabilitation and recovery. I would give him the deference to be able to decide whether or not he’d like to put himself forward as a candidate,” Gaetz said. “But he’d be the type of person that I could see myself supporting. There are many people, though, I could see myself supporting.”

Scalise, in office since 2008, has been a reliable conservative voice while in office, championing issues like energy development and stricter border policies. He’s steadily risen through the ranks of House GOP leadership, assuming the second-highest position this Congress. He’s spoken warmly of former President Donald Trump, but has yet to endorse his 2024 presidential bid.

Meredith Lee Hill and Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.

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