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By Dean Scott
June 11 — A Republican leadership shake-up triggered by a June 10 primary upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is unlikely to make much of a difference for energy and pro-environment bills already blocked by House Republicans—but it could end up putting two energy panel members in leadership posts.
For environmental legislation, the shake-up will only take “prospects for positive developments from very bad to even worse,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told Bloomberg BNA. “What this does is probably bury” any moves on pro-environment bills, energy efficiency legislation, or other bills already languishing in the House, he said.
But the upheaval could end with two House Energy and Commerce Committee members serving in leadership posts: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a vocal climate science skeptic who will seek the third-ranking majority whip post, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who currently chairs the Republican Conference and announced late in the day she would stay on as fourth-ranking Republican.
Scalise is likely to have some competitors for the third-ranking post, including Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who currently serves as chief deputy whip.
The leadership changes will happen quickly: Cantor announced late in the day that he will step down, perhaps by July 31, and will back Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to succeed him in the No. 2 slot. The votes for the leadership positions are slated for June 19.
Cantor was defeated by David Brat, an economics professor widely considered an underdog in the race, in the June 10 Republican primary. Cantor's defeat ends speculation that he might challenge House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for his post after the fall elections; Republicans are widely expected to maintain control of the chamber.
Scalise took a high-profile role in fighting Democrats' 2009 cap-and-trade bill, which passed the House but died in the Senate. Scalise will seek a whip post vacated by the current whip, McCarthy, who will try to move up to succeed Cantor, who has served in the number two slot since 2010.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) told reporters that Scalise, McCarthy and Roskam told him of their plans to run for the leadership posts on the House floor June 11. By day's end, at least three Republicans were running or considering a run to succeed Cantor in the number two slot: McCarthy, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
Besides his strong opposition to climate change legislation, Scalise also led a 2011 effort to block funding for a special White House adviser on climate change. The Louisiana Republican also authored language added to the 2013 rules package—which sets procedures for how the Republican-led chamber will move legislation—to require a listing of all federal regulations that could be mandated under new legislation.
Under the language offered by Scalise, any committee report or joint resolution on a bill must include “the number of rules and regulations created by the bill.”
With assistance from Anthony Adragna in Washington
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