House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) addresses the House of Representatives for the first time after being elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in a late 15th round of voting on the fourth day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. , January 7, 2023.
Jon Cherry | Reuters
Newly elected Speaker of the US House Kevin McCarthy took the gavel after a week-long blood-curdling battle within his own party, promising to carry out a conservative, America-first agenda, addressing the immigration crisis at the Mexican border address and reduce funding at the IRS and resolve “awakened indoctrination in our schools.”
After 14 failed votes since Tuesday, the California Republican was able to overcome the opposition after making extraordinary concessions to a small bloc of far-right holdouts who refused to support his bid as speaker.
McCarthy presented an ambitious plan when he addressed the 118th session of Congress early Saturday morning, saying he wants to “be in control and bring some balance” to President Joe Biden’s policies. He said the first legislation he plans to tackle would withdraw funding from more than 87,000 new IRS agents. He highlighted immigration reform as a top priority and said the Republican-controlled House will hold some of its first hearings of the year on the southern border.
“This crisis of security and sovereignty cannot be ignored anymore,” he said. “We must secure our border.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) hits the gavel for the first time after being elected the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in a late 15th round of voting on the fourth day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. , January 7, 2023.
Evelien Hockstein | Reuters
McCarthy claimed he will pass bills to solve “urgent” problems in the country with an America-first approach. In addition to immigration, he said he wants to tackle “America-Last” energy policies and “awakening indoctrination” in schools, noting that children come first and should be taught to “dream big.”
He added that he also intends to address long-term challenges such as debt and the Chinese Communist Party, and reaffirmed his commitment to law enforcement and criminal prosecution.
McCarthy said the tense confrontation on the House floor this week was proof that he’s not one to give up easily.
“You know, my dad used to say to me, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you end,” he said. “And now we have to finish strong for the American people.”
While his election marked the end of a long week and night in Washington, McCarthy said it also marked a new beginning for the nation.
Republican members celebrate when Republican Leader of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is elected Speaker of the House in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 7, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Geldmaker | Getty Images
Biden congratulated McCarthy on his election as House Speaker in a statement released shortly before 1 a.m. ET.
“Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House,” Biden said. “I am willing to work with Republicans when I can and voters have made it clear they expect Republicans to be willing to work with me as well,” he added.
Other Democratic leaders were less congratulatory after McCarthy’s victory.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said in a tweet Saturday that “Speaker McCarthy’s dream job could turn into a nightmare for the American people.”
House Democrat Cori Bush of Missouri said the GOP selected a speaker who enabled the violent uprising at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“McCarthy sold his hammer the way he sold our democracy — to white supremacist insurgents,” she said. in a tweet Saturday. “That’s not leadership.”
At a press conference early Saturday morning, McCarthy thanked former President Donald Trump for his support and said he was crucial in getting the final votes McCarthy needed.
“I don’t think he should question his influence,” McCarthy said. “He was with me from the start.”
Trump publicly expressed support for McCarthy on his social media platform Truth Social Saturday. The former president said the Republican Party got together and it was “beautiful to watch”.
“The ‘Speaker’ selection process, crazy as it may seem, has made it all much bigger and more important than the more conventional way,” he said. “Congratulations to Kevin McCarthy and our GREAT Republican Party!”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also shared his support for McCarthy Saturday, say in a tweet that Senate Republicans look forward to working with him.
McCarthy’s first duty as speaker was to swear in the other 433 members of Congress, who had been in limbo as elected members since Tuesday, when the 118th Congress first opened. After all new members were sworn in, the House passed the new set of rules McCarthy had negotiated with far-right Republicans.
McCarthy said negotiating was difficult given the narrow margins in the majority, but his win shows the Republican party can work together.
“I think what you’ll see by having this now, we’ve worked out how we can work together,” he said.
— CNBCs Christina Wilkie contributed to this report