Seven years after exiting the contest to replace John Boehner (R–Ohio) as Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R–Bakersfield) long trek reached its summit on Friday.
The road to get there? Rockier than ever expected, with a touch of history, too.
How we got here: McCarthy endured a first-in-a-century feat: losing multiple ballots on the House floor as the body reconvened following the 2022 election.
- By Friday, the feat grew more historic as the House undertook as many ballots as Speaker fights during the pre-Civil War era.
- After a failed twelfth vote on Friday morning, McCarthy and his allies spent much of the day working to negotiate with the bloc of 20 conservative Republicans who blocked his path to capturing a majority vote.
It initially appeared that negotiations would yield a successful vote at 7 p.m. on Friday.
It didn’t, and bedlam ensued.
Photo Finish: The scene between the 14th and 15th votes, courtesy of C-SPAN, showed a House riveted with tension and pressure to reach finality on a week-long slog to elect a Speaker.
- McCarthy and his allies approached so-called “Never Kevin” colleague, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.) to secure his vote to finish off the battle on the 14th ballot. The gaggle quickly grew hot, with would-be House Armed Services chairman Mike Rogers (R–Ala.), being restrained from confronting Gaetz.
- Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–Ga.), an ideological ally of many McCarthy detractors but a supporter of McCarthy, sought to flip Rep. Matt Rosendale’s (R–Mont.) vote by having him speak to former President Donald Trump. A photo showed Rosendale waving off the Presidential phone call.
What they’re saying: Following a 20-minute stemwinder introduction by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.), McCarthy took his oath and addressed the House.
“I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up. I will never give up for you, the American people. And I will never give up on keeping our commitment to America.”Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield), 55th Speaker of the House
- “Our system is built on checks and balances. It’s time for us to be the check and provide some balance to the President’s policies…There is nothing more important than making it possible for American families to live and enjoy the lives they deserve,” McCarthy said.
- “There was never a doubt in my mind that my friend Kevin McCarthy would become Speaker of the House. No one has worked harder for the American people, our conservative values, or to secure a Republican House majority than Speaker McCarthy. From the beginning, I pledged to support him no matter how many ballots it took and encouraged my colleagues to do the same so we could get to work for the American people,” said McCarthy’s congressional neighbor, Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford).
- “All of us majority-maker Congressmen need an effective Speaker. Kevin proved himself a determined and effective leader. He came out of the process a stronger Speaker. Now let’s get to work and show the American people that we serve them,” said newly-minted Rep. John Duarte (R–Modesto).