After arduous negotiations that compelled leadership to make concessions to the party’s far-right members up until the very last minute of occasionally-heated arguments on the House floor, Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker on the fifteenth ballot.
After four days of being repeatedly rejected, Mr. McCarthy, 57, scraped his way to a triumph early Saturday morning, marking a personal success for him. He had previously failed to win the speakership more than seven years prior.
Democrat Hakeem Jeffries received 212 votes, while Mr. McCarthy received 216. (N.Y.). By casting six Republican absentee ballots, Mr. McCarthy had a better chance of winning the vote.
In a divided capital, the new speaker will be in charge of the only political stronghold for the GOP. He conceded to several demands in exchange for their support, including giving them more influence over spending bills and committee assignments.
Mr. McCarthy said as he took the gavel, “My father always taught me it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. And now, for the sake of the American people, we must end strongly.”
When asked how he manipulated the votes earlier, Mr. McCarthy responded that nobody had been guaranteed a particular viewpoint. He said, “We were able to get the others to vote present and we ended up with a tie.”
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When Mr. McCarthy lost on the 14th ballot, which Republicans had intended to win, the war, as Republicans described it this week, reached its climactic point on Friday night. To allow two Republicans to fly back into Washington after leaving, lawmakers delayed the vote until 10 p.m.
But after all the votes were tallied, Mr. McCarthy came up short by one vote. His floor personnel walked up to him and gave him a blank stare. He lobbied Florida Representative Matt Gaetz while crossing the House floor to where he was seated. Although Mr. Gaetz had opposed Mr. McCarthy, he switched his vote to present on Friday.
Mr. McCarthy needed a second vote by name because he wanted the support of the majority of all voters for a particular candidate. Mr. Gaetz, who has generated money by campaigning against the California Republican, looked to shrug and shake his body. Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama leaped at Mr. Gaetz and was dragged away by his colleagues as Mr. McCarthy left.
Republicans sought to adjourn the meeting, but amid a flurry of talks, during that vote, Republicans started changing their votes to begin a fifteenth ballot. Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Elijah Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, and Matthew Rosendale of Montana switched their votes in that round from absentee to present, reducing the bar for Mr. McCarthy to prevail.
Shortly after the vote, President Biden congratulated Mr. McCarthy in a statement. “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,” he said.
Since the 44 attempts it took to elect a speaker before the Civil War, the House has not experienced this many failed votes. For the first time in 100 years, a speaker didn’t win on the first ballot in this year’s election. The failure of Mr. McCarthy to win the speakership vote has halted all Housework.
“Well, that was easy,” Mr. McCarthy said after taking the gavel. He then addressed Mr. Jeffries, who got repeated unanimous votes from his caucus this week: “Hakeem, I’ve gotta warn ya, two years ago, I got 100% of the vote from my conference.”
On Friday, it appeared Mr. McCarthy would have enough votes to prevail after making several rules and agreement concessions to his 20 opponents.
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 7, 2023
People who know the situation said that the arrangement resolved many of the policy disagreements lawmakers anticipated this year on the debt ceiling and spending. They include a promise to vote on particular initiatives, attaching expenditure cuts to a rise in the debt ceiling, and altering the rules so that removing him as a leader is simpler. He also consented to appoint more conservative House Freedom Caucus members to significant committees.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida rookie who repeatedly voted against Mr. McCarthy before changing her vote on Friday, said that when someone is genuinely committed to carrying out their agenda, they are not afraid of returning that power to the representatives.
To avoid a default on the nation’s debt, Congress may need to raise the debt ceiling later this year. According to Rep. French Hill (R., Ark.), a McCarthy friend who participated in the negotiations, lawmakers agreed to have expenditure cutbacks connected to any legislation regarding the debt ceiling. Democrats are confident they won’t give in to Republican pressure to use the debt ceiling as an excuse to slash government programs.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), leader of the Freedom Caucus and a member who switched his vote in favor of Mr. McCarthy, declared that there would be “no clean rise in the debt ceiling.”
The compromises Mr. McCarthy made, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), would “make it considerably more likely that the MAGA Republican-controlled House will trigger a government shutdown or a default with disastrous implications for our country,” he said.
According to persons with knowledge of the subject, the deal requires that the House pass a resolution explaining its plan to balance the federal budget within ten years. That may entail attempting to raise the age at which beneficiaries of programs like Social Security and Medicare become eligible, as well as making significant changes to other programs. Republican support for tax increases is unlikely.
According to current law, federal spending is predicted to be $8.9 trillion in 2032, while federal revenue is projected to be $6.7 trillion. As a result, cutting spending to balance the budget would need more than a $1 cut for every $4 that the government is scheduled to spend.
Other persons who know the situation claimed that the agreement would simplify legislative amendments and how and when lawmakers vote on budget measures.
Negotiators also agreed to pass a measure that prevents a government shutdown by enacting a continuing resolution that reduces expenditure if Congress fails to pass appropriations bills by the funding deadline. It seems improbable that the Senate would approve the legislation, and President Biden would have to sign it. The majority of Republicans oppose utilizing another omnibus budget measure that Congress has passed in the past few years to fund the government.
Additionally, Mr. Perry stated there were discussions about reducing earmarks or money for particular projects in members’ districts. The fact that their party voted to reinstate earmarks in budget legislation after they had been outlawed for years infuriated many of Mr. McCarthy’s critics.
Following days of gridlock, Mr. McCarthy’s political momentum was evident by the 15 GOP votes that switched in his favor on Friday afternoon.
— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) January 7, 2023
In the 12th round, fourteen MPs switched their votes from “present” or against Mr. McCarthy to support him. Then, in the 13th round, Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland changed his vote in favor of Mr. McCarthy, making him the 15th Republican. Six Republicans continued to vote against Mr. McCarthy, though.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, stressed on a call with House Republicans on Friday morning that the deal wouldn’t harm moderate Republicans or deprive those who have supported Mr. McCarthy of chairmanships as lawmakers had started to grow weary and worry that negotiators were giving too much to the far-right opponents, according to two people familiar with the situation.
For the first time in the 12th series on Friday, Mr. McCarthy garnered more votes than the Democratic candidate, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Republicans gave a standing ovation to each lawmaker who altered a voice.
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Rep. David Trone, a Democrat from Maryland who had surgery that morning and missed the 12th series, hurried back to the Capitol to participate in the 13th vote. Democrats applauded Mr. Trone when he cast his ballot in the 13th round while wearing hospital socks and slippers.
Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Wesley Hunt of Texas were two of Mr. McCarthy’s supporters who were present on Friday. According to his assistant, Mr. Buck had to return home for a scheduled, non-emergency medical operation. Because his son was born this week, Mr. Hunt returned home. Both went back to the polls on Friday night.
At 1:39 on Saturday morning, Mr. McCarthy was formally sworn in as speaker. The president then swore in the 118th Congress’ House members.
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