Kevin McCarthy Finally Secures Speaker Position After Brutal Election

Texas GOP Calls for Replacement of RNC Chair

( – The House of Representatives finally has a new speaker, after the longest election in over 150 years. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has taken over the post from Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after a grueling round of votes. As displays of Republican unity go, it wasn’t impressive.

On January 3, the House of Representatives started the process of electing a new speaker. This was the 128th election of a speaker, and in 113 of those elections, the result was decided on the first ballot. Only 14 previous elections have needed more than one round of votes, with the record being held by the 1855 Congress that (finally) elected Nathaniel Banks — after 133 ballots spread out over two months.

Last week’s election didn’t come close to the one in 1855, but it certainly dragged out. The major party nominees were Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Kevin McCarthy. With the GOP holding a 10-seat majority, McCarthy should have been assured of a comfortable win — but that’s not how it turned out. In fact, Jeffries got more votes in the first round, with all 212 Democrats voting for him, while McCarthy, faced with 19 Republican rebels, received only 203. The issue was a group of hardline Republicans who didn’t think McCarthy was conservative enough.

The GOP rebellion kicked off four days of ballots and negotiations, as McCarthy made deals and agreed on concessions in an attempt to win over his critics. After the third ballot on Tuesday, McCarthy’s total had actually fallen to 202 votes, and on January 4, it went down again to 201, with 20 votes going to Byron Donalds (R-FL). By Thursday, McCarthy was getting 200 votes, and the problem looked insoluble. However, the next day, his support began to climb, narrowly beating Jeffries, but still failed to reach an absolute majority of seats.

Finally, in exchange for the promise of several seats on committees for rebels and a change to House rules that will allow a single member to trigger a vote to unseat the speaker, McCarthy reached the necessary 216 votes at the 14th ballot, although thanks to some temporary confusion he had 216 votes, but not a majority. However, eventually, enough of the remaining rebels agreed to vote present — lowering the threshold for victory — and McCarthy cleared the hurdle on the 15th ballot. He was immediately sworn in as Speaker, but he’s beginning his term with a very divided Republican caucus behind him.

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