A day after declaring his candidacy for House speaker, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday he'd listen to every voice to usher in a "generational change" on Capitol Hill.
The California Republican told CNBC's "Squawk Box" he's a firm believer in bottom-up leadership, saying he'd listen to the American people and all factions of his party. In the end, he insisted he'd have the courage to lead in the face of tough decisions.
"As you listen to the people across this country, we need to be closer to who we represent. We need the people to understand and believe this is their government; that they're in charge and we're here to serve them," McCarthy said.
"It won't happen overnight. And it won't be easy. But that's my mission," he said.
Speaker John Boehner announced last week that he's resigning from Congress at the end of October. Boehner, who was elected to Congress in 1990, said he had planned to serve only through the end of 2014, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss last year had changed that calculation.
McCarthy, who succeeded Cantor as majority leader, praised Boehner's tenure as speaker, which saw party infighting between tea party hardline conservatives and more moderate Republicans. "History will be kind to John," he said.
On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the Senate is set to pass a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins Thursday. The measure, stripped of the Planned Parenthood defunding, would keep the government open through early December.
The House is also expected to pass the continuing resolution, with conservatives opting not to push the Planned Parenthood issue this week, instead pressing the women's health group in hearings.
In her first testimony to Congress since a series of sting videos, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is set to answer questions Tuesday before the House Oversight Committee.
The anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress released the videos last month, saying they showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said the videos were distorted, with deceptive edits and denies it's improperly used fetal tissue from abortions.
Conservatives are not going to give up on defunding Planned Parenthood. But McCarthy vowed to avoid another shutdown threat later this year when the temporary funding ends and the debt ceiling needs to be raised.
"We're going to stop having these 'cliffs,'" he said. "We'll start working on issues well in advance. Every time you have a cliff it's disruptive."
McCarthy said he's open to working with Democrats.
"We have a system in government that you're going to have to compromise. I'm not going to get 100 percent of what I want," he acknowledged. "But I'm going to work to get the most conservative piece of legislation."