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House Majority Leader US Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA)

The Punchbowl News interview: Steve Scalise

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, currently No. 2 in GOP leadership, is working hard to lock up the support he needs for the speakership. We spoke to him from New Orleans Friday.

As we’ve mentioned before, Scalise has some strong institutional advantages over Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Scalise has a whip operation in place already and has won multiple leadership races. And he’s much more palatable to moderates than Jordan, who has made a career as a hardline conservative. We’ve heard from several moderate Republicans that they’d rather have Scalise in the speakership than Jordan because the Louisiana Republican is much easier to bring to swing districts.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that neither of them will get the 217 votes they need to be speaker.

OK, let’s jump into Scalise’s take on key policies.

Funding. Scalise said Republicans need to “get back on track” and focus on fighting for new border-security policies.

We asked Scalise if there’s a specific policy he wanted to push for dealing with the border. Scalise said he’s been “working with … members, my colleagues” on what he would do. But he called this a “‘Day One’ issue as speaker.”

Ukraine. Scalise drew a somewhat firm line against continuing to fund Ukraine’s efforts to free itself of Russian occupation, which is fast becoming the default position for many members of the House GOP. Scalise said President Joe Biden hasn’t made a case to fund the war and said he has other priorities.

The motion to vacate. Scalise said the push to change the motion to vacate “comes up on almost every call” he has with members of the House Republican Conference. But Scalise didn’t state a personal preference besides wanting to come to a decision internally with Republicans:

— Jake Sherman

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