Kevin McCarthy was elected the US House Speaker late on Friday after a record 15th round of voting. McCarthy, who has been the presumptive GoP leader, fought off a spirited campaign from a handful of Republican renegades to clinch the powerful role.
The House floor witnessed dramatic moments after having been in session for more than 12 hours on Friday. After intense negotiations and deal making, McCarthy was expected to win in the 14th round but his efforts were again torpedoed by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. McCarthy, after having fallen short by one vote, then went up the aisle to speak to Gaetz. McCarthy retreated after a few moments of tense exchange but his allies nearly erupted into an altercation with Gaetz.
In the final round of voting, McCarthy got 216 out of a total of Of 428 votes cast while the Democrat candidate Hakeem Jeffries got 212. "Therefore, the Honorable Kevin McCarthy, having received a majority of votes cast, is duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives," declared House clerk Cheryl Johnson.
In the final rounds prominent Republicans holdouts like Montana's Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke, Virginia's Bob Good and Eli Crane and Andy Biggs of Arizona flipped to grant McCarthy the Speakership. Various media outlets reported that former President Donald Trump personally telephoned the holdouts and called on them to support McCarthy and 'wrap up things tonight'.
However, it appears that hardline leaders Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert did not flip. They were seen sitting in the back of the Congress floor as the House Republicans were up on their feet, clapping and celebrating the victory of McCarthy.
Now that the Speaker election is over, the house proceedings will start as per the agenda set by McCarthy. A tense face-off with the White House is easily going to take place as the Republicans have pledged they will use the House majority to investigate nearly all aspects of the Biden administration.
The GoP will also aggressively go after Hunter Biden, and probe his business dealings abroad that had reportedly had the blessings of the President.
President Joe Biden congratulated McCarthy on Friday night, saying he looked forward to the resumption of House business. Now that McCarthy has had to give a number of key concessions to the hardline core of the GoP, the House business will increasingly be dominated by the right wing within the Republican party. This will invariably cause more than usual friction with the Democrats and the White House, so much so some analysts say the House could become 'ungovernable'.
The Republicans Who Flipped in 12th Round
Twenty ultra-right Republicans have been holding off McCarthy's election as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. Among them 14 have flipped sides after intense negotiations that lasted three days. The are:
Dan Bishop (R-N.C.),
Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.)
Michael Cloud (R-Texas)
Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.)
Byron Donalds (R-Fla.)
Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.)
Mary Miller (R-Ill.)
Ralph Norman (R-S.C.),
Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.)
Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
Keith Self (R-Texas)
and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.)
Matt Rosendale (Montana)
Ryan Zinke (Montana)
Bob Good (Virginia)
Eli Crane Arizona)
Andy Biggs (Arizona)
Before the Speaker is elected the Congress cannot discharge any other business, including the swearing in of the newly elected Representatives.
The first session of the US Congress will convene on January 3 as per the long-held custom, and the Speaker election will take place on that day. The role of Speaker is extremely important and influential in the US as it is the third-highest ranking position after the president and vice president. The US House Speaker is expected to take on the powers of the president in the eventuality of either the president or the vice-president being unable to discharge the duties of the highest office in the land.