House Republicans have elected Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader. McCarthy is described as a moderate and loyal to Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Cantor was defeated in Virginia last week by challenger Dave Brat. He will step down as House majority leader at the end of July.

Now there will be a race to fill McCarthy’s spot as majority whip. 

UPDATE, 4:00p ET: House GOP Conference elects Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as new majority whip.

Watch the report above and read more from

McCarthy, a fourth-term lawmaker who had held the No. 3 GOP position, was elected by secret ballot.

The day's second election, to succeed McCarthy as party whip, remained an unpredictable three-way competition among Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.

The new leaders will govern for only 12 legislative days between when Cantor officially calls it quits on July 31 and November’s midterm elections.

Congress is off most of August and October.

Tension among Republicans has been brewing even before Cantor’s loss, with unhappy conservatives and Tea Party members jockeying for more say.

McCarthy, who faced Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, was believed to be way ahead going into Thursday’s voting.  McCarthy, 49, moved quickly to line up the votes for majority leader following Cantor’s loss in Virginia.

Members voting wrote the name of the candidate they wanted on slips of paper. There are currently 233 members of the House Republican Conference; 117 votes were needed to win.

A bloc of a few dozen Republicans, mainly rock-ribbed conservatives, likely voted for Labrador as the "alternative" candidate to the "establishment." It’s the same faction of Republicans who have voted against most major policy initiatives -- be it raising the debt ceiling, funding the government, a transportation package, agriculture bills and hurricane relief.

Experts say Thursday’s vote is a dress rehearsal for a potential GOP leadership shakeup following November’s midterm elections. That battle for power could include House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is up for re-election after the Nov. 4 midterms.