- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2015

Rep. Kevin McCarthy announced his bid to be the next House speaker in a letter to colleagues Monday that insisted the GOP must work to heal its internal divisions in order to win on the big fights facing Congress.

The California Republican said he’d already reached out to every one of the more than 240 House Republicans to sound them out about his candidacy and the direction they think Republicans should go, and his official entry into the race likely signals he has sewed up the support needed to triumph.

All eyes are already turning to the race to succeed Mr. McCarthy, who is the current majority leader, and who would leave that post — the second-ranking House GOP position — open should he rise to the speakership.

Mr. McCarthy didn’t tip his hand about whether he’ll follow in the footsteps of outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner, who angered some on the right by not taking a more hard-line stance in forcing shutdown showdowns. Instead, Mr. McCarthy offered a broad promise of openness.

“If elected speaker, I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people. But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we always move forward together,” he said.

Mr. McCarthy also said he wants lawmakers “to be much closer to the people we represent” than to be responsive to inside-the-Beltway forces in Washington.

SEE ALSO: Under pressure: McConnell pushed to resign as Senate Majority Leader

While Mr. McCarthy is the likely choice for speaker, some conservatives have pushed for a go-slow approach to elections, saying the GOP needs to have a bigger conversation about how it approaches many of the big fights that have ensnared Capitol Hill over the last few years.

Pressure groups, meanwhile, are beginning to question whether Mr. McCarthy is the right guy.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which wants to see a crackdown on illegal immigrants, said Mr. McCarthy must do more to prove that he won’t try to legalize illegal immigrants.

The group said Mr. McCarthy was part of the House GOP leadership team that tried to cajole colleagues into passing a legalization bill in 2013.

“Heading into a presidential election year in which immigration is shaping up as a central issue, Congress has a golden opportunity to put the president and his party on the defensive,” FAIR said in an email memo. “One has to wonder if a status quo speaker is the kind of change that Republican House members and the voters are looking for on immigration.”

Some conservative lawmakers have said they want to know where the candidates for the leadership team stand on trying to push back against President Obama’s immigration executive actions, in which he tried to carve some 5 million illegal immigrants out of any danger of deportation.

They’ve also listed trying to halt Obamacare, strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood and scuttling the president’s nuclear deal with Iran as areas where the new leadership team will have to be active.

In the race to succeed Mr. McCarthy as leader Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, has already locked up endorsements from Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a conservative star and former member of the leadership team, and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee and a man whose opinion carries enormous weight within the party caucus.

Mr. Price is currently chairman of the House Budget Committee, having taken over after Mr. Ryan ascended to lead the Ways and Means Committee.

He faces Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican who is currently majority whip.

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