Saturday, after 15 rounds of voting, Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House, achieving his goal after a long and arduous campaign.
McCarthy’s victory was confirmed on the last ballot at 12.30 a.m. on Saturday, following the longest vote for the gavel since the Civil War, when four Republican hardliners folded in by voting “present.”
The Republican House secured his victory by making significant concessions to the Freedom Caucus conservatives who refused to abandon their demands for more conservative activities in the House. McCarthy converted more than a dozen conservative holdouts, including the head of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, leaving him just a few votes shy of assuming the gavel for the new Congress after four days of numerous elections and waning tolerance.
As the House started its late-night session on Friday, the Republican candidate from California was one vote shy of victory in the fourteenth round.
After the 15th ballot, when the House Clerk, Cheryl Johnson, declared McCarthy would head the 118th Congress, rowdy Republicans began chanting “USA” as the House Clerk proclaimed McCarthy’s victory.
Reps. Bob Good, Virginia, Eli Crane, Arizona, Matt Rosendale, Montana, and Andy Biggs, Arizona, all voted ‘present’ on the final ballot, giving McCarthy the majority vote he needed to win. They joined Florida’s Matt Gaetz and Colorado’s Lauren Boebert in voting ‘present’ following days of voting for candidates other than McCarthy.
McCarthy told CNN of Rep. Matt Gaetz, ‘At the end of the night, Matt got everybody there to the point where nobody voted the other way, so it actually helped bring people together.’
At the final vote, even Gaetz stood to applaud along with the majority of the caucus when McCarthy voted for himself. It was rumored that Gaetz would vote “yes” for McCarthy on this last round, but he did not once it became apparent McCarthy would win even if he continued to vote present.
Moments earlier, total chaos erupted on the House floor when McCarthy fell one vote short on the 14th Speaker’s ballot.
McCarthy received 216 votes, Democrat Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York received 212 votes, and there were six “present” votes. After ultimately being sworn in as Speaker of the House, Rep. McCarthy’s inaugural address elicited reaction.
‘That was easy, huh?’ McCarthy opened his victory address by stating,
He glanced across to Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, whose party had been unified in support of him during the whole speakership campaign. In an effort to be a mediator, McCarthy said, ‘Hakeem, I must tell you: two years ago, I received 100 percent of the vote from my conference.’‘Leader Jeffries there will be times we agree. And many times we will differ. I promise our debates will be passionate but they will never be personal,’ McCarthy said.
‘Now, the hard work begins.’ he continued. ‘We’re going to pass bills to fix the nation’s challenges from wide open southern borders, to American last energy policies to woke indoctrination in our schools,’ he added. ‘We will use the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena to get the job done.’
The new Speaker added: ‘We will also address America’s long-term challenges: the debt and the Chinese Communist Party. Congress must speak with one voice on both of these issues.’
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
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