NEW ORLEANS — It took four days and 15 rounds of voting for the U.S. House of Representatives to finally elect California republican Kevin McCarthy Speaker.
Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise was right in the middle of it, supporting McCarthy and negotiating an agreement with a group of GOP holdouts.
“The meetings that we were having throughout that week, as you were watching the votes play out, it was amazing how many people were watching,” Scalise said. “I was getting texts from people I hadn’t heard from in years. Seems like it was a daytime soap opera drama.”
The suburban New Orleans lawmaker had a much easier time being elected Majority Leader, the number 2 position in the House.
He said it is now his job to schedule bills to come to the floor for a vote and to work with other leaders to push through the conservative agenda that flipped the House from Democrat to Republican during the midterm elections.
“The speaker is probably the coach, and I might be the quarterback, and you’re also working with the coordinators, and you’re working with the team captains, and you’re making sure we’re all on the same page.”
The Republicans now hold a slim, 5-seat majority in the House.
Scalise knows he will have to work closely with different factions within his own party and Democrats across the aisle to get things done.
“If you’ve got good ideas bring them, and let’s start talking about them together, not yelling at each other remotely, but actually getting in a room together and start working through the problems and don’t demonize people individually based on personality,” Scalise said.”
Scalise says he is working to bring down inflation, lower energy costs, get federal spending under control, and secure the southern border.
He is also determined to reform the Federal Flood Insurance Program.
That includes the controversial FEMA Risk Rating 2.0, which was expected to increase rates for more than 80 percent of Louisiana policyholders.
“I strongly believe Risk Rating 2.0 needs to be scrapped. It needs to be thrown out. It was not ready for prime time. FEMA won’t even publicly defend it. They can’t even answer basic questions.
Scalise expects to hold Congressional hearings with FEMA officials before voting to reauthorize the flood insurance program.
Closer to home, he’s keeping a close eye on the Louisiana governor's race.
He says it’s too early to endorse a candidate.
“I surely will be talking to all of the candidates along the way because I want to hear their plans just like I think everybody else in the state does, so we can turn our state around.”
Congressman Scalise also weighed in on the presence of classified documents at President Joe Biden's home in Delaware and at an unsecured office in Washington.
He claims federal investigators knew about the documents before the midterm elections.
“If the Democrats would have held the majority, we would have never heard about any of this,” Scalise said. “It was only because Republicans won the majority. But why did the Justice Department sit on and cover that up prior to the election.”
Scalise also said former President Donald Trump was treated much differently when classified papers were seized from his home in Florida.