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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The hunt is on for a new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced Wednesday that he will leave Congress at the end of his term in January 2019, and many on the Right are gunning for a staunch defender of conservative principles to replace him.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the number two Republican in the House, is seen as a favorite for the position.
McCarthy has been described as "Trump's guy" on Capitol Hill. While Establishment Republicans hammered Trump during his campaign, McCarthy offered praise.
"They have a good relationship; Trump trusts Kevin," said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), a McCarthy ally. "Kevin reached out early on to have a dialogue ... and they just developed a trust over time."
The California Republican has earned a reputation as strongly pro-life and pro-religious liberty.
He was recently presented the Family Research Council's (FRC) "True Blue" award for his commitment to conservative ideals.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins thanked McCarthy for "consistently voting to defend and advance faith, family and freedom."
The FRC added:
As a "True Blue Member," he voted 100 percent on FRC Action's Scorecard, including votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, deliver long-needed tax cuts that are already providing much needed relief to working families, stand for religious liberty, overturn President Obama's transgender military policy, end the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood and protect pain-capable babies. Leader McCarthy deserves praise for his unwavering commitment to stand for life, family, marriage and religious liberty.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), the number three Republican in the House, is also a leading contender to replace Ryan.
A strong backer of the push to federally defund Planned Parenthood, Scalise has a 100 percent pro-life voting record, co-sponsoring a host of pro-life bills including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
Scalise helped spearhead the fight against the Obamacare contraception mandate, calling it "an attack on the religious freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the Bill of Rights."
In an open letter to Obama Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Louisiana Republican declared, "Religious organizations and hard-working taxpayers should not be forced by the federal government to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives or sterilizations in their health care plans."
Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, Scalise reflected on the Left's campaign to banish faith from public life.
"This is a nation that was not founded on agnostic views. This was a nation founded with a deep belief in God," he said. "Our founding fathers talked about it when they were preparing to draft the Constitution."
"If you go to the Jefferson Memorial ... read this inscription from Thomas Jefferson: 'God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?' You can't separate church from state," he added.
In the same address, Scalise scorned the notion that political leaders "can just check your faith at the door."
"I'm a Catholic," he declared. "Faith is part of who you are. It's part of who I am, it's part of what establishes the values that I bring to this job, and I would hope that everybody brings a set of values rooted in faith."