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McCarthy Era Begins — Sort Of. The GOP Leader Squeaks Out A House Speaker Victory

Benzinga · 01/07/2023 01:15

GOP leader Kevin McCarthy finally won election early Saturday morning as House speaker in a historic 15-ballot ballot battle.

The California representative secured the position after giving into major concessions to far-right House members.

McCarthy, who was only able to lose four votes, took roughly five days to win the necessary number of backers to become House Speaker — a historic record.

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What Happened: At one point, more than 20 Republican House members opposed McCarthy — considered the favorite — in a dramatic back-and-forth over the course of the week.

That all came to an end early Saturday morning when he managed to sway enough holdouts to cross the necessary threshold of 218 votes.

The victory, hardly a feather in his cap, allows Congress to proceed — business as usual.

So long as there was a stalemate, the speakership struggle froze the House, preventing new Representatives from being sworn in.

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, one of the most vocal McCarthy opponents who called the ongoing five-day debate "healthy," cleared the path to his election by voting "present."

Rep. Matt Gaetz, perhaps the most steadfast of McCarthy's opponents, maintained a “present” vote.

In the end, the final vote count was 216 for McCarthy and 212 for Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Why It Matters: This week wasn't a good look for the GOP, which holds a narrow majority over the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

“I find it embarrassing," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, said. "I’ve been here for two years without committees, and I’m really ready to get to work.”

This was the longest House Speaker election since 1859.

The chaotic week-long process underscores just how divided the 118th Congress is.

Whether the Republican holdouts, some of which were supporters of former President Donald Trump and the Capitol Insurrection, will cooperate with establishment Republicans remains to be seen. 

Image: Shutterstock