Rep. Kevin McCarthy elected GOP leader in the House for next Congress

Key Points
  • House Republicans elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the new leader of the caucus in the next Congress, which starts in January.
  • McCarthy will succeed House Speaker Paul Ryan as GOP leader as Republicans become the minority party in the House next year.
  • He defeated Rep. Jim Jordan, a conservative.
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) talks with reporters following the weekly House Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol April 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

House Republicans elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the chamber's new minority leader on Wednesday, putting him in charge of an unruly caucus that faces a loss of power in January for the first time in eight years.

The California Republican and current majority leader put down a leadership bid from Rep. Jim Jordan, a co-founder and former chairman of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus. McCarthy defeated Jordan by a vote of 159 to 43.

McCarthy in January will succeed House Speaker Paul Ryan, who will retire at the end of his current term, as leader of the House GOP caucus. Republicans elected current Majority Whip Steve Scalise as minority whip, which will make him the No. 2 member of the GOP caucus next year.

McCarthy will have to balance the demands of governing in the minority and leading a party that has increasingly cast itself in the mold of President Donald Trump. The GOP representative, who has himself drifted more toward Trump since the president took office, will also try to figure out how to vault a party that suburban voters wary of the president's party rejected at the ballot box last week.

Democrats will win the House. Here's how it could impact Trump's economy
Democrats will win the House. Here's how it could impact Trump's economy

Democrats are projected to win 226 seats in the next Congress, while Republicans are set to win 199, according to current NBC News projections. Ten contests are still undecided.

Facing a Democratic majority, McCarthy will have a major role in deciding how his party proceeds on issues such as health care, immigration and tax policy, and whether leadership indulges the party's more conservative impulses. The California Republican has served as House majority leader under both former GOP Speaker John Boehner and Ryan.

Current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hopes to reclaim the speaker's gavel in a January election, though opposition to her leadership has mounted within the Democratic caucus.

Also on Wednesday, Senate Republicans and Democrats re-elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to their positions.