US House Republicans on Wednesday elected Kevin McCarthy as the House minority leader, the top Republican in the lower chamber in the new Congress starting January. The No. 2 spot of House minority whip was claimed by Representative Steve Scalise, Xinhua reported.
McCarthy, 53, prevailed 159-43, according to the House press gallery. He fended off a challenge from Jim Jordan, the co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Unlike the 218 votes needed to become Speaker, McCarthy only needed to secure a simple majority of votes from his Republican colleagues to become minority leader, according to a TheHill news daily report.
A Washington Post report said McCarthy beat Jordan with the backing of retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan and benefits from a close relationship with President Donald Trump.
McCarthy has been the House majority leader for four years. He made a bid for speaker in 2015 but stepped aside amid pressure from conservatives. Also on Wednesday, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer won the votes to keep their posts next year.
House Democrats will not hold their leadership elections until later this month, according to local media reports. Republicans lost the control of the House for the first time in eight years but remains the majority in the Senate during the midterm elections held last week.