Advertisement

Kevin McCarthy wins House speaker job on 15th vote amid tension in chamber

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C,, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as the House continues to vote for speaker at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Friday. Gaetz voted "present" in the 14th round of voting, but Rep. Kevin McCarthy still did not receive enough votes to become speaker. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
1 of 13 | Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C,, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as the House continues to vote for speaker at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Friday. Gaetz voted "present" in the 14th round of voting, but Rep. Kevin McCarthy still did not receive enough votes to become speaker. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won the speaker of the House job following a 15th vote early Saturday morning after the lower chamber devolved into chaos after the previous vote that McCarthy thought he would win.

In his acceptance speech, McCarthy said his priorities for the House of Representatives would be "bringing back hundreds of thousands of jobs that went to China," investigating United States' involvement in Afghanistan, looking into the origins of COVID-19, probing the "weaponization of the FBI" and border security.

Advertisement

After he was sworn in as speaker, McCarthy swore in all members of the House who were elected to the 118th Congress. Rep. Steve Scalese, R-La., was introduced as majority leader, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., was introduced as minority leader.

Applause broke out and supporters rushed to congratulate McCarthy when he captured the speaker position with 216 Republican votes and six GOP votes of "present" from holdouts, some of whom changed their votes for other candidates.

Advertisement

For the 14th vote, Rep. Matt Gaetz, of Florida had been present in the chamber before his name was called, but did not cast a vote in an apparent attempt to hold his vote until the end during the fourth day of the process, the longest it has taken in 164 years.

Gaetz voted present again during the final round, but McCarthy clinched the speaker position when others voted present rather than casting ballots for other GOP representatives.

As members of the lower chamber cast their votes, Gaetz was seen huddled with Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who has led negotiations for McCarthy.

When his name was called on a reread of the roll, Gaetz voted "present" and then appeared to get in a heated discussion with McCarthy, who looked angry as he returned to his seat.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., was pictured pulling Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala, back as they talked with Gaetz.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R), R-Calif, walks away after speaking to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as the House continues to vote for speaker at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Friday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., also voted present when her name was called and received applause from McCarthy's allies. She was seen with Gaetz during the discussions on the floor.

Advertisement

Of McCarthy's holdouts, Reps. Bob Good and Andy Biggs voted for Jim Jordan -- who voted for McCarthy. Eli Crane and Matthew Rosendale voted for Biggs.

Biggs voted present in 15th round, earning applause from Republicans including McCarthy.

McHenry, who nominated McCarthy during the third round of voting Friday, made a motion to adjourn until Monday morning -- which received a resounding "no" from Democrats and led to a counting of "yeas and nays."

The House voted not to adjourn as McCarthy was again nominated. Republicans were seen changing their votes to adjourn as McCarthy was seen patting Gaetz on the back as the lower chamber headed into the 15th round of voting.

"Look, the president has called this process an embarrassment. Talking heads have labeled this chaos and a mess," McHenry said as he nominated McCarthy for the 14th round on Friday.

"But it's all democracy and this is a hallmark of a free democracy where every voice and every vote counts. We know it's messy but open and transparent debate is what sets us apart from authoritarian regimes."

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R), R-Calif., speaks to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as the House continues to vote for speaker at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Friday. Gaetz voted "present" in the 14th round of voting but McCarthy still did not receive enough votes to become speaker. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Advertisement

Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., nominated Jeffries -- who Democrats have rallied around through voting this week with around 212 votes each round during the 14th round of voting.

Jeffries was nominated in the 15th round by Rep. Dean Phillips, who invited McCarthy's holdouts in joining in the vote for the Democratic leader.

During the first and second ballots Friday, McCarthy received 214 votes, four short of the number needed to win with a majority of the full chamber. Six Republicans voted against him.

McCarthy did make some progress Friday, as 14 Republicans who opposed him earlier voted for him on Friday, and Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., switched her vote from present to McCarthy.

A coalition of detractors seeking to prevent McCarthy from becoming speaker has nominated various other lawmakers.

For the first ballot Friday, Gaetz nominated Jim Jordan of Ohio while Boebert of Colorado again nominated Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern.

Jeffries received 211 votes during the first ballot Friday, while Hern received three and Jordan received four.

Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, and David Trone, D-Md., didn't vote on the 12th ballot. Trone returned to cast his vote on the 13th ballot.

House Republicans held a conference call starting at 10:15 a.m. EST Friday to discuss strategy ahead of the voting session.

Advertisement

McCarthy, who was first elected to Congress in 2006, insisted Thursday evening that he was making progress on a deal to win back some of his detractors and repeated that message Friday.

"We're going to make progress, we're gonna shock you!" McCarthy told reporters Friday morning as he arrived at the U.S. Capitol.

"We're going to get it done."

Coming into Friday, representatives had spent 17 hours and 55 minutes in the voting process, preventing the 118th Congress from conducting any business, including the swearing in of new members.

McCarthy and his supporters continue to negotiate a deal with their party's hardliners who have refused to support him.

Earlier in the week, McCarthy's failure to win marked the first time since 1923 that a speaker was not elected during the first round of balloting.

Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker on 15th ballot

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., takes the oath of office for speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol in Washington the early hours of January 7, 2023. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines