Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise emerge as frontrunners to succeed Paul Ryan

Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise emerge as early frontrunners for Speaker.

As recently as this week, the Majority Leader's office was working with the White House on a proposed package of spending cuts, in an indication of the California Republican's influence and close ties within the Trump White House.

This time, McCarthy isn’t revealing much about his potential aspirations to move up the leadership chain, downplaying the urgency to mount a campaign for Speaker.

“There is no leadership election and Paul is speaker right now,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Scalise suffered a life-threatening gunshot wound during a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., last June, turning him into a household name – a rarity for members of the House of Representatives.

While Scalise has publicly said he would not challenge McCarthy for the position, one source close to the Louisiana Republican cited McCarthy’s withdrawal from the speaker’s race in 2015 as a reason for Scalise to be prepared to enter the race in McCarthy’s absence.

“I think right now we gotta focus on our job, we still have a job to do for the American people,” Scalise told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday morning. “And I’m focused on working with President Trump to make sure we get our agenda passed.”

If Ryan has his way, he’ll retain the speaker’s gavel until the end of the 115th Congress, capping 20 years in Congress.

“I am not resigning,” Ryan, R-Wis., said. “I intend to serve my full term as I was elected to do, but I will be retiring in January leaving this majority in good hands with what I believe is a very bright future.”

“They won’t wait for nine months,” Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters. “I obviously think there is a leadership race that probably started a few weeks ago and will pick up steam.”

Meadows, who said he hopes Ryan serves out his term, says he’s not interested in the job.

“You know leadership has never been on my bucket list and it’s not on my bucket list today in spite of this announcement,” Meadows said.

As Ryan noted Wednesday, few House speakers leave Congress on their own terms. Former Rep. Tip O'Neill was the last speaker to retire from office in 1987, and every speaker since the Massachusetts Democrat has either resigned and left Congress early or lost the majority and control of the House.

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