After 15 rounds of voting held over five days, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has been elected speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The deciding vote started Friday night and ended early Saturday morning. It also came after a dramatic failed ballot where McCarthy came up one vote short and confronted US Rep. Matt Gaetz on the House floor.
The final tally was 216 votes for McCarthy, 212 for Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries with six representatives voting “present.”
Republicans previously agreed to nominate McCarthy, but his path to the speakership was uncertain after a group of GOP holdouts threatened to derail his bid.
Several days of gridlock gave way to dramatic moments late Friday evening. In the 14th round, an extraordinary scene erupted, with McCarthy confronting Rep. Matt Gaetz, whose vote on that ballot could have given him the role he has sought for so long.
After a failed motion to adjourn until Monday, McCarthy finally had the votes to secure the position.
When the win was announced, Reps. Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, and Ryan Zinke, the last member to vote, all ran over to McCarthy with their vote cards for him to sign.
The entire GOP conference was on their feet clapping. McCarthy hugged many members that came up to him and waved to folks in the gallery.
McCarthy came off the floor, expressing relief saying, “I’m glad it’s over.”
He also denied Rep. Matt Gaetz was offered the chairmanship of a subcommittee in exchange for his “present” vote on speaker and said it would be up to the steering committee to decide those appointments.
“No one gets promised anything,” McCarthy said. “Whatever happens in steering.”
The GOP only holds a slim majority in the chamber – 222 Republicans compared with 212 Democrats – which meant McCarthy could not afford many defections.
McCarthy represents California and previously served as House minority leader. McCarthy has already vowed to launch multiple investigations into President Joe Biden and his administration.
Now, the House can proceed with the rest of its business, including administering the oath of office to newly elected members.
President Joe Biden issued a statement congratulating Speaker-elect Kevin McCarthy on his win.
In his statement, the president said: “Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House. 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. Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin.”
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