Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS -- There was a shift in political power in the nation's capital Thursday with Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise now rising among the ranks of Republicans.

The congressman was elected by GOP leaders as House majority whip.

'I'm looking forward to seeing my wife and kids,' said a smiling Scalise just moments before getting hugs from his family on Capitol Hill.

'This is a win for America because we're going to be a more united team moving forward. You look at a Senate that's dysfunctional,' said Scalise. 'There are so many bills that we have passed to get our economy moving again and to solve real problems facing hard working taxpayers that the Senate doesn't even want to act on.'

Thursday's vote makes Scalise the number three Republican in the House. It is the highest House leadership position ever attained by a member of Louisiana's GOP party and the highest for a Louisiana representative since 1972.

It's a milestone that Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere applauds.

'He's in a position to push through legislation or to stop legislation that's going to hurt Louisiana,' said Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere.

As party whip Scalise will be in charge of counting votes for and against legislation. The 48-year-old will also be an enforcer, handing out both incentives and punishments for votes among caucus members.

Louisiana's Democratic Party says having someone from our state in key leadership roles is always positive.

'Whether it's the hospitality industry, our restaurants, our tourism industry, the Port of New Orleans, maritime commerce, all of those things are critical to us and we want to make sure that we have people there who when they speak people listen,' said state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans.

'We certainly are glad to have members of our delegation whenever that occurs in leadership roles in the House or the Senate. That endures to the benefit of our state and that's always a good thing,' said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson by phone.

Voters cooling off with snoballs in Old Metairie weighed in on Scalise's victory.

'I think he deserves it. I think he does a good job. It's a lot better than having a democrat in that position,' said Metairie resident, Alvin Weber.

'I think it shows a lot about the people that come from here and decide to represent us, that they're willing to take that kind of leadership role in a very large part of our government,' said Kacie Baley.

Scalise will officially take over as House Majority Whip on July 31. The change is part of a Republican shuffle after Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., lost his primary re-election bid.

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