The Road to the 118th Congress: Leadership Elections
November 21, 2022.
Last week, Republicans and Democrats began selecting their leadership for the upcoming 118th Congress.
Why it matters: In both chambers, those elected to leadership positions in the majority are responsible for setting the legislative agenda for the next two years. They negotiate with the minority party on issues and legislation that require bipartisan support (e.g., government funding and the debt ceiling).
House Republicans voted for their top three positions:
- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) secured the Republican nomination for Speaker of the House by a 188-31 vote of the House Republican Conference. McCarthy received 86% of the votes and easily beat a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ). McCarthy needs to secure 218 votes to be elected Speaker on January 3.
- Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) secured the #2 spot and will be the next Majority Leader.
- Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) will be the next Majority Whip in the House after a competitive 3-way race between Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA).
What's next: The “Big Three” House Democrats, Pelosi (82), Steny Hoyer (83), and Clyburn (82), will be replaced by the “New Three” on November 30, when the Democratic caucus holds their leadership vote.
- Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is expected to succeed Pelosi as Democratic Leader. The 52-year-old Brooklynite worked at law firm Paul, Weiss and served in the New York State Assembly before winning his current seat in 2012. He will be the first Black member of Congress to lead either party in the House. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Jefferies has publicly clashed with the party’s left flank.
- Katherine Clark (D-MA) is expected to become the next Minority Whip. The 59-year old, first elected in a 2013 special election, previously held lower-profile leadership roles working closely with freshmen members. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Clark isn’t known as a firebrand but has been quietly positioning herself for leadership by building close ties with powerful women across Washington.
- Pete Aguilar (D-CA) — is expected to become the Caucus Chair. The 43-year old who flipped a Republican-held seat in 2014 is been viewed as a rising star. He is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of Congressional lawmakers with a reputation as pro-business moderates.
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will remain as Republican Leader by a vote of 37-10 after easily beating back a challenge from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). McConnell acknowledged Republicans “have a problem with people in the middle,” and said, “we turned off a lot of these centrist voters.” He will break the record for longest-serving party leader in Senate history next year.
- Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) will remain in their #2 and #3 positions, respectively.
Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will remain in their positions. Sen. Patti Murray (D-WA) is expected to be nominated as the next President Pro Tempore, opening up the #3 Caucus Leader position. The Senate Democratic caucus will host their leadership elections on December 8.