After the votes, the new team — McCarthy, Scalise, Boehner, and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers — came together for a short news conference. "I make one promise," McCarthy said. "I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen. And we'll turn this country around."
Scalise emphasized that he would bring a fresh voice to leadership and asked President Obama to work with them to solve the nation's problems. "We've got solid conservative solutions that are going to solve the problems facing our country," he said.
McCarthy and Scalise will not officially assume their new roles until July 31, when Cantor steps down from the post. At that point only 12 legislative days are scheduled before the Nov. 4 midterm elections. And, after the midterms wrap up, another round of internal elections will be held for both parties in the House to choose leaders for the next Congress.
Republicans, in fact, were buzzing about this fall's elections before Thursday's contest was completed.
"We're going to hold them accountable," Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina said Wednesday when speaking about the candidates in Thursday's races. "There's another leadership election right around the corner, and we're going to watch how this new leadership team works with the speaker and how they lead the conference through this crucial November election. And then we'll judge them."
While McCarthy supporters were celebrating, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe, in response to Labrador's loss, was already pointing to the next round of leadership voting after the Nov. 4 elections — a harbinger of possible battles ahead.
"We are looking forward to an even bigger group of liberty leadership candidates after the elections in November," said Kibbe.
When McCarthy was asked at the presser after the vote about possible conservative concern over his blue-state background, the California Republican touted his biography. House Republicans "elected a guy who is a grandson of a cattle rancher, a son of a firefighter. Only in America do you get that opportunity," he said.
"I think you give an opportunity, people'll be very impressed about what we're going to do and where we're going to go," he said before leaving the podium.
McCarthy will become the nation's 25th different House majority leader — a position created in 1899 and first held by another Republican, Sereno Elisha Payne of New York. No majority leader has ever risen from that post to eventually become president. But some have been promoted to speaker — including Boehner, who was leader from 2005 to 2007.
The main duties of a majority leader are to schedule legislation for floor consideration, and plan the daily — and weekly — agendas, along with gauging member sentiment on goals and how to proceed.