Kevin McCarthy Elected House Speaker On 15th Ballot After Contentious Debate
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has been voted in as Speaker of the 118th House of Representatives. After a historic 15 rounds of voting, McCarthy was able to generate enough Republican support to take the House gavel.
McCarthy’s speakership paves the way for the Congressional session to start. Before his winning vote, members of the House could not be sworn in, House rules couldn’t be enacted and laws could not be discussed on the floor. The rules package that will govern the 435-seat chamber will be voted on at 5 p.m. ET on Monday.
The speaker is the second in line to the presidency.
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“I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up. And I will never give up for you, the American people,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter after securing the House’s top seat.
McCarthy needed to secure a majority of the votes to get the speakership. With 222 Republicans in the House, no less than four Republicans could vote for another candidate.
The slim majority led to 15 rounds of contentious battles on the floor. A handful of right-wing Republicans refused to concede to a McCarthy speakership without rule changes that empowered the right-flank of the party.
McCarthy did not meaningfully negotiate with Democrats to secure any of their votes.
Instead, the right wing of the GOP negotiated for various high-profile committee seats, a lower threshold of votes needed to unseat the Speaker, a new rule that gives all staffers 72 hours to read through all legislation before passing it and a promise not to spend campaign funds on moderate Republicans in “safe” districts.
“As I said after the midterms, I am prepared to work with Republicans when I can and voters made clear that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin.”
McCarthy said the first bill discussed on the floor would attempt to remove new IRS funding that was increased in the Inflation Reduction Act, a major Republican campaign promise.
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