Kevin McCarthy elected Speaker of the House after tension on the floor

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WASHINGTON — Republican leader Kevin McCarthy defeated a conservative rebellion and won the election as the 54th Speaker of the House early Saturday morning, following a chaotic standoff on the House floor between his allies and their far-right opponents. and that put an end to four days of stalemate.

The narrow victory for the California Republican came on the 15th ballot: the fifth-longest ballot in US history by number of ballots and the longest ballot in 164 years.

McCarthy received 216 votes, just a handful more than he needed to win the coveted deck, with the remaining six Republican foes voting present. All 212 Democrats endorsed their candidate, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Becoming speaker of the House has been a career ambition for McCarthy, 57, who served as a House staffer and California Assembly Minority Leader in Sacramento before being elected to the House in 2006. He has methodically risen through the ranks of the House. Republican leadership team over the past 14 years.

“He is relentless. The man is not giving up,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C., who previously served on McCarthy’s leadership team, in his nomination speech.

The victory came shortly after tempers boiled over and pandemonium erupted on the House floor Friday night as McCarthy suffered defeat on the 14th consecutive ballot.

After conservatives again denied McCarthy the votes he needed, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, the incoming chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, charged at McCarthy’s foe, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and he began to yell angrily. Representative Richard Hudson, RN.C., had to physically restrain Rogers, pulling his shoulders back and, at one point, placing his hands over Rogers’ mouth.

Moments earlier, McCarthy himself had walked from his seat, down the center aisle toward Gaetz and Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, to try to swap their current votes for yes; that would have secured the speaker’s gavel for McCarthy.

But when he was unsuccessful, he provoked Rogers, who serves alongside Gaetz in the Armed Services.

Rep. Mike Garcia left, shakes hands with Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Friday after nominating him for the 12th round of voting.Alex Brandon/AP

Over three days this week, a band of about 20 hardline conservatives voted 11 consecutive times to prevent McCarthy from winning the prized gavel. Some called on him to step down, while others made demands that jeopardized his fragile Republican coalition of moderates and conservatives.

The intrapartisan standoff paralyzed the House of Representatives, preventing all 434 members from being sworn in, bills from being voted on and committees from being formed. Some lawmakers lamented losing their security clearances and not being able to receive classified reports.

It marked a rocky start for the new House Republican majority.

But a breakthrough came on day 4 of the stalemate. After days of difficult negotiations behind closed doors, leaders of the far-right House Freedom Caucus wrung a series of concessions from McCarthy. They included promised spending cuts; a package of rule changes that empowered members and diluted the power of the speaker; and give HFC members seats on the Rules, Appropriations and other powerful committees.

One key concession McCarthy made to the rioters: reinstating a rule that gives a single lawmaker the power to force a vote to remove a sitting speaker mid-term, a change that will almost certainly haunt McCarthy for months to come. . Earlier, McCarthy had agreed that at least five members would be needed to make that “motion to vacate” the speaker’s chair.

In return, when the clerk read the roll call on the 12th ballot Friday, 13 of the 20 rebel Conservatives switched their votes to McCarthy, giving him a boost after a grueling week of defeats.

On the next ballot, they were joined by a fourteenth opposition.

In a dramatic scene, Representatives Dan Bishop of South Carolina, Michael Cloud of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Byron Donalds of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mary Miller of Illinois, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andrew Ogles of Tennessee , Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Chip Roy of Texas stood one by one on the House floor and announced their vote for McCarthy, encouraged each time by their fellow Republicans.

Reps-elect Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and Keith Self of Texas also cast their votes for McCarthy on that 12th ballot. On the 13th ballot, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., also endorsed McCarthy after repeatedly opposing him.

A 15th Republican, Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, switched her present vote to McCarthy.

The new endorsement still did not earn McCarthy a majority of the votes of all House members, which he needed to win the speaker’s gavel. But he gave it a much-needed boost as members watched closely whether support for him would wane or rise as the stalemate dragged on.

By Friday night, the reluctant finalists, once called the Never Kevins, conceded that McCarthy would be chosen as the speaker. Due to the narrow four-seat GOP majority, he needed every last vote to cross the finish line.

Representative-elect Wesley Hunt flew back to Washington from Texas, where his wife had just given birth to their baby boy prematurely. And Rep. Ken Buck flew back from his Colorado home, where he had a doctor’s appointment.

Having now chosen a speaker, the House can begin its work under the new Republican majority.

haley talbot, kate santaliz, Liz Brown-Kaiser, julie tsirkin, Olympia Sonnier, gary grumbach , julia jester, kyle stewart Y sahil kapur contributed.

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