Rep. KevinMcCarthy’s opening speech has sparked uproar after he was finally sworn in as Speaker of the House following four days of a chaos and a near-punch up in Congress.
‘That was easy, huh?’ McCarthy began in his victory speech – shortly after Alabama Representative Mike Rogers had to be held back from attacking Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.
The two Republicans almost came to blows over Gaetz’s refusal to back McCarthy during the 14th vote, costing him that contest, with the violent clash coming as tempers frayed over the mammoth voting-process.
He looked over at Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, whose party was united behind him throughout the race for speaker.
‘Hakeem, I gotta warn ya, two years ago I got 100 percent of the vote from my conference,’ McCarthy continued in a bid to act as peacemaker.
‘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,’ McCarthy said.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., gestures towards the newly installed nameplate at his office after he was sworn in as speaker of the 118th Congress in Washington
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama is restrained after yelling at Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida
‘Now, the hard work begins.’
‘We’re going to pass bills to fix the nation’s challenges from wide open southern borders, to American last energy policies to woke indoctrination in our schools,’ he added. ‘We will use the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena to get the job done.’
The new Speaker added: ‘We will also address America’s long-term challenges: the debt and the Chinese Communist Party. Congress must speak with one voice on both of these issues.’
He said one of the House’s ‘very first hearings’ would be on the U.S.-Mexico border and the first bill it brought forward would be to ‘repeal funding for 87,000 new IRS agents.’
After the longest vote for the gavel since the Civil War, McCarthy’s victory was confirmed on the final ballot at 12.30am on Saturday morning when four Republican hardliners caved in by voting ‘present.’
His victory followed absolute mayhem on the House floor when Republican Rep. Mike Rogers lunged at Matt Gaetz and had to be held back by his colleagues.
McCarthy said that the issues he will face head on include the national debt and the ‘Chinese Communist Party’
After the longest vote for the gavel since the Civil War, McCarthy’s victory was confirmed on the final ballot at 12.30am on Saturday morning when four Republican hardliners caved in by voting ‘present’
Rep.-elect Katie Porter (D-CA) reads a book in the House Chamber during the fourth day of elections for Speaker of the House at on January 6
Speaking to reporters, McCarthy paid tribute to the support of ex-President Donald Trump during the voting process.
McCarthy said of Trump, ‘He was with me from the beginning — somebody wrote the doubt of whether he was there — and he was all in. He would call me and he would call others. And he really was — I was just talking to him tonight — helping get those final votes.’
While talking about Rep. Matt Gaetz, McCarthy told CNN, ‘At the end of the night, Matt got everybody there from the point that nobody voted against the other way, so it actually helped unite people.’
In the interview, McCarthy also said that he attempted to put a positive spin on the voting chaos this week, saying that by getting the disruption out of the way early, the GOP has ‘learned to work together’ after having ‘built trust.’
McCarthy holds the gavel at long last
The Republican House got to his win by making major concessions to the group of rebels who have demanded more power in the party.
After four protracted days of multiple elections and flagging patience, McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, leaving him just a few shy of seizing the gavel for the new Congress.
As the House resumed for the late night session of Friday, the California Republican had been on the cusp of victory in the 14th round but fell one vote short.
But after the 15th ballot a ‘USA’ chant broke out among raucous Republicans as the House Clerk, Cheryl Johnson, announced McCarthy would lead the 118th Congress.
On the final ballot, four Republican holdouts – Reps. Bob Good, Va., Eli Crane, Ariz., Matt Rosendale, Mont., and Andy Biggs, Ariz., all switched their votes to ‘present,’ giving McCarthy the majority vote he needed for victory.
They joined Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado in switching to ‘present’ votes after days of voting for a candidate other than McCarthy.
The final vote tally was 216 for McCarthy, 212 for Democrat Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and six ‘present’ votes.
On the final vote, even Gaetz stood to clap with the most of the rest of the caucus when McCarthy cast his vote for himself. It had been reported that Gaetz would vote ‘yes’ for McCarthy on this final round, but he did not do so after it became clear McCarthy would win even if he continued to vote present.
Moments earlier absolute mayhem broke out on the House floor as the 14th Speaker’s ballot left McCarthy one vote short.
The California Republican immediately walked up to Gaetz and Boebert, presumably with the intent of persuading them to change their ‘present’ votes to ‘yes.’
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama then lunged at Gaetz and had to be held back by Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina before an all-out fist fight could break out on the House floor.
‘Stay civil!’ someone shouted.
Republicans quickly moved to adjourn, but then McCarthy rushed forward to switch his vote to remain in session as colleagues chanted ‘One more time!’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a McCarthy ally and Trump acolyte, reportedly went up to Rosendale and told him that was Trump on the phone and that Rosendale needed to speak with him. ‘Don’t you ever do me like that,’ Rosendale reportedly told her.
Trump reportedly also spoke with Biggs and Gaetz.
After a whirlwind back-and-forth where 21 anti-McCarthy holdouts were whittled down to just four by the 14th ballot, McCarthy was on the precipice of finally taking the speakership where the business of the House under Republican control could begin, before he fell one vote short.
During that vote, Gaetz waited till the end of the roll call to cast his ‘present’ vote, keeping the chamber on edge as the clerk ticked off all 435 names.
Reps. Eli Crane of Arizona and Matt Rosendale of Montana cast their vote for Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Rep. Bob Good of Virginia cast his vote for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Rep. Wesley Hunt, Texas, got a standing ovation for casting his vote for McCarthy. He’d missed earlier votes as his wife gave birth but returned to Washington to set the California Republican on a path to victory. McCarthy walked across the House floor and gave him a hug.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama is restrained after yelling at Matt Gaetz of Florida
U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) talks to Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz of Florida in the House Chamber after Gaetz voted present during the fourth day of voting for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia pulls out all the stops: the initials ‘DT’ for Donald Trump are seen on her phone
Greene tries to shove her phone over to Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana so he can answer to Trump on why he refuses to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California
Rep. Lauren Boebert also got a round of applause for switching her vote from Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma to ‘present.’
Ahead of the vote, longtime McCarthy defector Gaetz said on Fox News: ‘I’m running out of things to ask for.’
For days, the firebrand from Florida bragged that the only way he would vote for McCarthy is if the rules concessions made it so that he was wearing a ‘straitjacket.’
The debate played out on the second anniversary of the January 6th attack and the irony did not go unnoticed.
McCarthy told reporters earlier he would have the votes to become Speaker as the House moved to adjourn until 10 p.m.
‘You’ll be calling me the Comeback Kid,’ the California Republican boasted after losing an unprecedented 13 elections for Speaker.
Asked how he knew he’d have the votes by the 14th ballot, he snarked: ‘Because I counted.’
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reacts after being nominated for a 14th time in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker
McCarthy seems in a far better mood as he expected to have the votes to pull off the Speaker’s bid Friday night
Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado changed her anti-McCarthy vote to ‘present’ helping McCarthy by lowering the threshold of votes he needs to win
Last ones standing – these are the final GOP McCarthy dissenters
• Andy Biggs (AZ)
• Lauren Boebert (CO)
• Eli Crane (AZ)
• Matt Gaetz (FL)
• Bob Good (VA)
• Matt Rosendale (MT)
In a startling development, the GOP leader won more votes than he has seen in the last four days of the farce after his party held a conference call to try and strike a deal with the hardliners who have sunk his bid.
McCarthy managed to score 214 votes in the last round of elections, leaving him short of winning the gavel but tantalizing close to victory.
The leeway comes after days of stalemate and crucial negotiations over concessions on Friday morning.
The rebels flipped after McCarthy made more concessions in the package that includes votes on lawmaker term limits and border security, the motion to vacate the speaker and more roles on House committees.
Rep. Keith Self of Texas switched his vote because he supported the ‘significant’ rules changes that were made overnight.
‘It has become clear to me that a couple of individuals are simply obstructionists, more interested in self-promotion than restoring the republic,’ he said.
McCarthy had previously agreed to allow more members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to serve on the House Rules Committee, which dictates what bills make it to the House floor.
He also agreed that his leadership PAC would stay out of safe primary races, therefore allowing conservatives to challenge more moderate Republicans in red districts.
McCarthy also agreed to a Church-style committee to go after weaponization of the Department of Justice and FBI, named after late Sen. Frank Church, who oversaw investigations into intelligence agencies.
GOP Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida told DailyMail.com he has ‘some issues’ with the concessions McCarthy made to the House Rebels, but ‘nothing that can’t be worked out.’
He said he absolutely would not support the reported $76 billion cut to Defense spending that was reportedly part of the Freedom Caucus deal McCarthy made.
No House Speaker vote has gone on this long in modern US political history, and it’s set Republicans’ new majority in the chamber off to a rocky start.
In 1856, it took former House Speaker Nathaniel Prentice Banks two months and 133 rounds of voting for the House of Representatives to settle on a leader – the longest stretch on record.
In the first round of voting on Friday, Rep. Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan and tore into McCarthy, causing approximately two dozen furious members of his caucus to stage a walk-out of the House floor.
Gaetz called McCarthy ‘the Lebron James of special interest fundraising. He said McCarthy’s bid for Speaker was an ‘exercise in vanity’ driven by ‘personal ambition.’
‘That ambition is paralyzing the House now,’ Gaetz said.
‘You only earn the position of Speaker of the House. If you can get the votes. Mr. McCarthy doesn’t have the votes today. He will not have the votes tomorrow and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year.’
At one point, GOP Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois stood up and started shouting at Gaetz before being quieted by House Clerk Cheryl Johnson.
In a petulant manner, Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana walked out the chamber by beginning his vote with ‘Kevin…’ and pausing before adding ‘Hern!’ followed by groans from the GOP delegation supporting McCarthy.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly offered the 20 rogue Republicans a list of concessions he would make in exchange for their votes in the speakership race
Rep. Kevin McCarthy is captured leaving the House chamber Thursday night after losing another round of votes in bid to become next Speaker of the House
Each time a McCarthy dissenter switched their vote on Friday, the rest of the pro-McCarthy faction of the conference stood up and applauded.
Rep. Tim Burchett, Tennessee earned a standing ovation and cheers when he cast his vote by saying: ‘Based on the fact no one cheers when I speak, and I’ve never been asked to give a nomination speech – but I’m not bitter about it – Kevin McCarthy.’
Lawmakers appeared exhausted as the House Speaker vote dragged out across a third day
Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona sits by himself during the tenth vote for Speaker, and fourth vote of Thursday
McCarthy spent much of the third day of votes walking around the chamber speaking to both allies and holdouts (seen speaking with Republican Rep.-elect Cory Mills of Florida)
Firebrand GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia were seen sitting next to each other, despite their public break over McCarthy’s Speakership bid
For the seventh round, McCarthy was nominated by Michigan Rep-elect John James
The historic gridlock has paralyzed Capitol Hill; with no Speaker, the 118th House of Representatives cannot be sworn in, and new legislation cannot move to the floor or through committees – which do not have formal chairs yet.
And on Wednesday, a group of Republican military veterans held a press conference warning that the disarray was leading to significant national security vulnerabilities.
Florida Rep. Michael Waltz said from the podium, ‘Authoritarian regimes all over the world are pointing to what’s going on in the House of Representatives and saying, ‘Look at the messiness of democracy, look at how it doesn’t work, can’t function.”
MCCARTHY OFFERS FRESH CONCESSIONS TO WIN OVER HARD-RIGHT REPUBLICANS
IN A STUNNING REVERSAL, THE GOP LEADER IS NOW OPEN TO ONCE ‘RED-LINE’ DEMANDS FROM RIGHT-WING REBELS
• ONE-MEMBER ‘MOTION TO VACATE’ THE CHAIR
In a major concession to the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the California Republican has offered to lower the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote to remove the speaker – from five to one – a change that the GOP leader had previously said he would not accept.
• FREEDOM CAUCUS TO HAVE RULES COMMITTEE SEATS
McCarthy is open to allowing GOP hardliners to handpick four of the party’s members on the powerful Rules Committee – no small concession as it controls what legislation reaches the floor, as well as allowing ANY lawmaker to propose changes on spending legislation, including any that would tank the measure.
• A VOTE ON TERM LIMITS
There were also discussions of introducing legislation limiting House members to three terms and Senators to two terms. The upper chamber is currently led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York meaning the proposal to limit the Senate is a no-go.
• REBELS TO CHAIR SUB-COMMITTEE
Several ‘Never Kevin Caucus’ members want high-profile assignments including Florida’s Matt Gaetz as chair of the House Armed Services subcommittee and Maryland’s Andy Harris as the head of the Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services
• CHANGES TO APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS
The Freedom Caucus wants rule changes that would decentralize power in both the House GOP – and the rest of the chamber – to give more power to individual members. The demand that committee chairs are selected by the committee and not the leadership, and rewards fundraising and party loyalty.