On 15th Vote in Historic Run, McCarthy, GOP Leader Clinches US House Speakership
GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California has been elected by the U.S. House of Representatives elected as speaker in a historic 15th vote early Saturday. He won after a contentious four days and 14 failed ballots. It was the longest the chamber has gone leaderless in a century which goes into the record books.
During a tense showdown on the House floor in the middle of the 14th failed vote at around 11 p.m. ET Friday, McCarthy personally confronted GOP Reps Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
Notwithstanding making numerous concessions to win support from them and other far right Republicans over the course of the week, they still refused to support McCarthy outright. They, instead, joined four other Republicans in the 15th and final vote by voting “present,” which helped him clinch the gavel by reducing the number of votes he needed to get to a majority. With 216 possible votes out of 428 he narrowly won.
In the rundown, support for McCarthy dwindled over the first three days of voting from 203 votes on Tuesday to 200 by the 11th vote on Thursday, falling far short of the number needed to win the speakership. He needed support from more than half of the lawmakers who cast their ballots. With 222 Republicans in the House, he could only afford to lose a handful of votes.
All 212 Democrats have unanimously backed House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies for each vote, except the 12th vote in which one member was out for a minor surgery.
President Joe Biden congratulated McCarthy on his election as House Speaker in a statement issued shortly after his scaling through the rigorous process.
Said Biden: “Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House,”
“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,” he added.
Despite Biden’s cordial statement, he has made little secret this week of his concerns about how long it was taking Republicans to elect a speaker.
“I just think it’s really embarrassing it’s taking so long,” Biden said Wednesday en route to Kentucky for an event with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky.
The split screen images of Biden’s bipartisan trip and McCarthy’s chaotic vote-a-rama back in Washington drew widespread commentary, and Biden mentioned his trip again in his congratulatory statement on McCarthy.
“As the last two years show, we can do profound things for the country when we do them together,” said Biden. “For example, this week I traveled to Kentucky to highlight the growing benefits that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is bringing to communities all over the country.”
As both Biden and McCarthy know well, McCarthy voted against the infrastructure bill, and several members of his caucus defied him to help the House pass it.