Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, will endorse a bid by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to become speaker, Scalise’s office told POLITICO on Friday.
“Whip Scalise’s focus remains on moving our conservative agenda forward and maintaining our Republican majority,” said Scalise spokesman Chris Bond. “When a speaker’s race is called, he’ll be supporting Leader McCarthy.”
The positioning occurred one day after Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Thursday that he was retiring from Congress at the end of his current term.
Scalise’s declaration of support will put to rest speculation that he would in any way work against McCarthy, who in 2015 failed to garner the support needed to clinch the gavel. Two weeks ago, Scalise expressed interest in being speaker someday, infuriating McCarthy’s camp — even though he said emphatically that he wouldn’t run against McCarthy should he seek the position.
Scalise’s allies have told him to be ready to run in case conservatives block McCarthy from the speakership. Some Republicans, however, have speculated that Scalise might change his mind and run anyway, noting that he’s leapfrogged more senior members in previous leadership races.
Scalise’s support comes after Ryan has twice suggested in TV interviews that his entire leadership team, including Scalise, had endorsed McCarthy.
Scalise, in fact, had not done so.