California Republican Kevin McCarthy finally took on the role of speaker after days of opposition from members of his own party
The U.S. House of Representatives has named a new speaker after 15 separate votes, with GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy now poised to fill the position after a days-long battle with insurgent Republicans.
As McCarthy lost the 14th ballot Friday night and the House looked set to go into the weekend without a speaker, Republicans pushed for another vote in a last-minute decision. After receiving the support of more than a dozen fellow GOP members who voted for other candidates, the California legislature finally secured a majority in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida was the only GOP member to stand in McCarthy’s way for the final vote, leading a group of 20 insurgent Republicans under the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus during this week’s speaker votes. Lawmakers argued that McCarthy is too willing to capitulate to the Democrats and faces years of poor policy making, preventing him from taking the position of speaker for four days.
Democrats united around New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who received 212 votes in the final attempt, leaving a small group of Republicans to cast the tiebreaker.
With the vote set to begin Tuesday, the GOP stalemate resulted in a highly unusual scenario for Congress. The last time the body went beyond a single ballot to fill the role of speaker was 100 years ago, in 1923, when it took nine votes to nominate Republican Frederick Gillett.
Without a speaker, legislators could not be sworn in and Congress could not officially begin its next session, making the vote vital for the legislature to function properly in the new year.
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