Kevin McCarthy was finally elected speaker of the House early Saturday morning, shortly after a scuffle nearly broke out between congressional Republicans.
“The 15th and final vote for House speaker gave McCarthy 216 votes, a bare majority that was lower than the normal 218 votes needed because all six of his remaining GOP opponents relented and voted ‘present,'” Fox News reported.
The successful vote came after an entire week of intense negotiations and 14 failed votes.
“Therefore, the honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California, having received a majority of the votes cast, is duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 7, 2023
“You know, my father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and now we need to finish strong for the American people. You know, the son of a fireman and a grandchild of immigrants can rise to the highest position in the most important legislative body in our country, and my colleague, Hakeem Jeffries, with his life story, can rise to lead his party, and democracy can still thrive in America,” McCarthy subsequently said in a victory speech.
“To 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. That’s my commitment to you. And now, the hard work begins. What we do here today, next week, next month, next year will set the tone for everything that follows. Tonight, I want to talk directly to the American people. As speaker of the house, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility, our responsibility, is to our country.”
As noted earlier, a scuffle nearly broke out right before McCarthy was elected speaker.
It started after McCarthy failed to secure enough votes during the 14th round. Frustrated by the result, McCarthy then approached lead holdout Rep. Matt Gaetz.
What ensued was a tense discussion that nearly devolved into a fight when Rep. Mike Rogers angrily decided to pull up and confront Gaetz himself.
In the process of confronting Gaetz, Rogers had to be physically restrained and held back by his colleagues.
“Mike D. Rogers of Alabama, who expects to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on which Gaetz serves, stormed toward the huddle [Gaetz and McCarthy], enraged. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), a member of the leadership, walked with Rogers, aware of how angry he was,” The Washington Post reported.
“Video and photographs show Rogers beginning to yell at Gaetz, when Hudson grabbed Rogers, including across his mouth, and physically yanked him back and sent him away from the group,” according to the Post.
This is television pic.twitter.com/wa0Zr4zdNZ
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 7, 2023
Mike Rogers was about to lose it pic.twitter.com/M5OQKSOLBp
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 7, 2023
Rep. Hudson, R-N.C., left, pulls Rep. Rogers, R-Ala., as he confronts Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during the 14th round of voting for speaker as the House meets for the fourth day to try and elect a speaker in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (@AP Photo/@andyharnik) pic.twitter.com/ok3K8ERtfU
— Andrew Harnik (@andyharnik) January 7, 2023
Shortly thereafter, Gaetz finally bent the knee and McCarthy was made speaker. That said, the bittersweet victory came after an intense week of negotiations.
“Taking the anti-McCarthy votes off the table capped a week in which McCarthy was able to chip away at the 20 Republicans who opposed him, thanks in large part to negotiations that will dramatically reshape the way the House is run,” Fox News reported.
“Some of the most conservative members of the House said they got virtually everything they wanted out of the talks and started to break for McCarthy on Friday morning,” according to Fox News.
The list of concessions made by McCarthy is quite big.
It begins with him allowing “a single lawmaker to make a motion to elect a new speaker, returning to the way the House ran for decades before that practice was eliminated under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” as noted by Fox News.
He also agreed to votes on term limits, to the adoption of a budget resolution that reportedly balances the budget in a decade, and to a cap on fiscal year 2024 spending at fiscal year 2022 levels.
He further “agreed to reject any negotiations on spending with the Senate until the Senate passes its own spending bills,” and “agreed not to increase the debt limit without spending cuts or other fiscal reforms.” He also agreed “to set up a committee to examine the weaponization of government against U.S. citizens,” and agreed “to ensure no bills are brought up on the floor until at least 72 hours passed.”
Last but not least, he agreed to hand over a certain amount of power to the feared House Freedom Caucus, triggering anger and fear-mongering from the left:
This is prolly the most dangerous concession. But big picture important too. To become Speaker McCarthy has handed control of the House to the hard right authoritarian caucus that brought us the insurrection and was repudiated at the ballot box. It will be a dangerous two years. https://t.co/qV8HlQbiyP
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 6, 2023
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