Our Views: A big step for Louisiana

Steve Scalise took a big step up in his political career.. We also welcome his election as majority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives for its enhancement of Louisiana’s position in Congress.

“To have a Louisiana congressman serve in majority leadership is great for our state and our country going forward,” said Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who served with the Metairie congressman for eight years in the state Legislature.

We agree and warmly congratulate Scalise on his elevation.

He was elected by his fellow Republicans in a three-way race for the whip position. It is the No. 3 ranked position among House Republicans.

That position in leadership is more oriented toward the internal workings of the GOP caucus than to national policy per se; the title comes from the English Parliament, where members were metaphorically whipped to vote the party line.

Nevertheless, it is still a position of leadership.

That gives Scalise, 48, a voice in policy and politics in the House majority. He will serve with House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and newly elected Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California.

Scalise’s election came after the elevation of the former whip, McCarthy, to fill the vacancy in the leadership created when Rep. Eric Cantor was defeated in a primary election in Virginia. Cantor promptly resigned from the leadership.

For Louisiana, that means more clout, something that has been diminished compared to the days when giants like Russell B. Long and Hale Boggs were national leaders in the Congress.

This year has been more positive for the state’s position as three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu was elevated to chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, a vital post for Louisiana. Sen. David Vitter, her Republican colleague, also has had a very successful legislative year as ranking GOP member on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

But our House members were relatively junior in seniority, although U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, holds a subcommittee chairmanship on the important Ways and Means Committee.

Scalise’s previous position was near to leadership, although not in committees of the House but head of the large caucus of GOP conservatives called the Republican Study Committee. That gave him a substantial base of support when Cantor’s shocking defeat and quick resignation caused the leadership reshuffle.

As the leadership had not included a Southerner, despite the many GOP members from our region, that probably also contributed to Scalise’s win.

We look forward to his contributions to his party and to the nation.