McCarthy Wins Speakership After Historic Fight

After a long fought-battle, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. McCarthy, who has served as leader of House Republicans since 2014, won after 15 rounds of voting spanning over five days, the longest battle in 164 years. The prolonged process was caused by a group of Republican lawmakers who refused to vote for him until he made concessions, mainly rule changes, and committee assignments.
Prior to the election, five Republicans, led by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), pledged not to support McCarthy; however, by the time voting began, the number had grown to almost 20. In the first round of voting, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) got 212 votes, the entirety of House Democrats, while McCarthy got only 203 votes. Biggs got 10, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was not running and supported McCarthy, got six, and three Republicans voted for different candidates. The lack of any candidate getting a majority sent the election into a second round, the first time this has happened in a century.
After the first round, Jim Jordan made an impassioned speech urging Republicans to vote for McCarthy. However, this backfired when all 19 anti-McCarthy Republicans voted Jordan for Speaker. After making no progress during the second and third rounds, Republicans voted to adjourn for the day, hoping to give McCarthy more time to negotiate with the holdouts.
The next day, after no progress was made, the holdouts ditched Jordan and nominated Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who originally voted for McCarthy but then changed his vote. The ensuing fourth, fifth, and sixth ballots yielded the same results; 212 for Jeffries, 201 for McCarthy, and 20 for Donalds. Again the House adjourned to allow for more negotiations. Many lawmakers were losing hope in McCarthy’s chances and began talks of nominating a different candidate. Former Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who are both moderate Republicans, were speculated to be potential replacements for McCarthy.
On the third day, the anti-McCarthy bloc began breaking down. In the eighth round of voting, 17 voted for Donalds, and two voted for Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), who had been supporting McCarthy. One member, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), voted for former President Donald Trump. By the eleventh round, five more switched their votes to Hern, and Gaetz was still voting for Trump.
As the House convened for the fourth day, it seemed that McCarthy had struck a deal with his opponents. In the twelfth round, 14 of them switched their votes to McCarthy, leaving only seven in opposition. After the thirteenth ballot, McCarthy became certain he would be able to win. However, drama ensued as the fourteenth round commenced. Two of the seven switched their votes to present, thus lowering the threshold McCarthy needed to win, but four holdouts still stood. After the vote, McCarthy pleaded with Gaetz, who voted present, asking him to change his vote. After Gaetz declined and McCarthy walked away in a dejected manner, the pent-up anger and frustration boiled over. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) rushed towards Gaetz, began shouting at him and had to be restrained by a fellow congressman.
After their latest failed attempt, Republicans moved to adjourn the House. However, after some on-the-spot negotiations, McCarthy urged his fellow Republicans to change their votes and not adjourn. As the 15th roll call began, it was clear that McCarthy would have the votes to win, as all of the holdouts had changed their votes to present. McCarthy received 216, just barely winning the majority and the Speakership.
In his first speech as Speaker, McCarthy said, “My father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…Now the hard work begins.” McCarthy will have plenty of hard work ahead of him, with a party full of ideological divisions and members who have already shown they are not willing to compromise on their principles.

The Hill
The Detriot News
The New York Times