North Carolina Republican Representative Patrick McHenry will temporarily take over for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise during one of the most sensitive moments of the year for House Republicans, Politico reads.
Scalise’s return to the House may be weeks or months away after he was shot last week. That means McHenry could be on the hook for helping to persuade an extremely divided Republican Conference to pass the Senate’s potentially more moderate replacement for Obamacare, as well as passing a 2018 budget and raising the federal debt ceiling — some of the most contentious votes of the year.
Meanwhile, McHenry is grappling with the tragedy of what happened to Scalise, his close friend. He spent hours in a Washington hospital awaiting updates after last week’s horrific incident, and lawmakers said he was visibly shaken by the tragedy. In a brief interview Monday, McHenry said Scalise built the whip team for success when he picked his deputy whips and his staff, and McHenry said they’ll work closely together to “get the job done” in Scalise’s absence.
“The whip team will remain strong and continue to do what Steve set us out to do, and we’ll be ready for when he returns,” McHenry said. “He’s going to be missed, but he’s set a standard for what’s expected and we know what we need to do to get the job done.”
On Tuesday and Thursday, McHenry will host a blood drive for Scalise — just as he takes the reins of the weekly whip meeting for several dozen GOP vote counters.
But asked if McHenry will unofficially be serving as an “acting majority whip,” the lawmaker replied: “As a practical matter, yes.”
In early May, the Scalise-McHenry duo had received much of the credit for corralling the votes needed to pass the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill out of the House after leadership came up short on its first try. Scalise and McHenry were among those who celebrated with President Trump in the White House Rose Garden after the successful vote.
As the whip team faces a number of prickly issues in the coming weeks, they will turn to Scalise for inspiration and McHenry for leadership.
Before the August recess, House Republicans will need to pass a fiscal 2018 budget resolution and may take another healthcare vote if the Senate sends over its own bill. Republicans will also need to pass legislation later this year to avert a government shutdown and avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt.