The resignation of Speaker John Boehner could possibly elevate Spokane Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to majority leader, the No. 2 position in the U.S. House.
The congressional leadership scramble touched off by the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner could elevate Spokane Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to House majority leader.
Sources close to Washington’s congressional delegation said Friday that McMorris Rodgers is working on a possible bid for the No. 2 position in the House. She’s also been identified as a leading contender in national media reports.
That path would open up if — as many expect — the current majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is elected speaker once Boehner gives up the gavel at the end of October.
McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership, now holds the No. 4 spot as chair of the House Republican Conference.
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In a statement Friday, McMorris Rodgers praised Boehner for building the Republicans’ strongest majority in 80 years, cutting spending by $2.1 trillion and blocking tax increases.
“He is a great American who always supported me and visited Eastern Washington many times. I am grateful for his leadership and proud to call him a friend,” McMorris Rodgers said.
She did not address her own plans, and her office said she’d have no additional comment. “No one expected the news today,” spokesman Ian Field said in an email.
While she’d downplayed her ambitions before Boehner’s surprise announcement, McMorris Rodgers was immediately mentioned Friday by a range of national publications as a top candidate for majority leader.
She could face serious competition. Potential rivals, according to media reports, include Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Georgia, and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who chairs the Rules Committee.
If McMorris Rodgers can’t gather the votes to be elected majority leader, she could remain in her current leadership post or push to move up to the No. 3 spot as majority whip.
McMorris Rodgers, 46, has spent most of her adult life in political office. Before running for Congress she spent a decade as a state representative after working as a legislative aide.
She has represented the 5th Congressional District of Eastern Washington since 2005 and has staked out a conservative record, voting with the Republican majority this month to defund Planned Parenthood.
McMorris Rodgers also is a co-founder of the bipartisan House Military Families Caucus and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Other Republican members of Washington’s congressional delegation joined McMorris Rodgers in issuing statements praising Boehner’s tenure as speaker on Friday.
“He has served our country with honor and passion, bringing us through some very difficult times,” said Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
“I thank Speaker Boehner for his dedicated service to our country in a difficult and thankless job, for guiding the House through often-troubled waters, and for his selfless act today,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver.
A different tone came from Everett Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen, who predicted the House GOP will lurch further to the right.
“Boehner’s resignation means pedal to the metal for tea party GOP,” Larsen said in a tweet.