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Kevin McCarthy wins House Speaker after days of negotiations

by Ana Lopez
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After difficult negotiations that forced the leadership to make concessions to the party’s far-right members until the very last minute of sometimes heated arguments on the House floor, Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker on the fifteenth ballot.

After four days of repeated rejection, Mr. McCarthy, 57, worked his way to victory early Saturday morning, a personal success for him. More than seven years earlier, he had failed to win the speakership.

Democrat Hakeem Jeffries received 212 votes, while Mr. McCarthy received 216. (NY). By casting six Republican absentee ballots, Mr. McCarthy had a better chance of winning the vote.

In a divided capital, the new speaker will be in charge of the GOP’s only political stronghold. He gave in to several demands in exchange for their support, including giving them more influence over bill spending and commission orders.

Mr. McCarthy said as he took the gavel: “My father always taught me that it’s not how you start; it’s how you end up. And now, for the sake of the American people, we must end strong.”

When asked how he had previously manipulated the votes, Mr McCarthy replied that no one had been given a particular position. He said, “We got the others to vote present and we ended up with a tie.”

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When Mr. McCarthy lost on the 14th ballot, which Republicans had hoped to win, the war, as Republicans described it this week, reached its climax on Friday night. To allow two Republicans to fly back to Washington after leaving, lawmakers postponed the vote to 10 p.m.

Kevin McCarthy wins House Speaker
Kevin McCarthy wins House Speaker

But after all the votes were counted, Mr. McCarthy was one vote short. His floor staff walked over and stared at him blankly. He lobbied Florida Representative Matt Gaetz as he crossed the house floor to where he sat. Although Mr. Gaetz turns to Mr. McCarthy had resisted, he switched his voice to present on Friday.

Mr. McCarthy needed a second named vote because he wanted the support of the majority of all voters for a particular candidate. Mr. Gaetz, who has made money campaigning against the California Republican, seemed to shrug and shake his body. Alabama Representative Mike Rogers jumped at Mr. Gaetz and was dragged away by his colleagues as Mr. McCarthy left.

Republicans tried to adjourn the meeting, but amid a flurry of talks, during that vote, Republicans began shifting their votes to begin a fifteenth ballot. Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona, Elijah Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia and Matthew Rosendale of Montana traded their votes from absent to present in that round, lowering the bar for Mr. McCarthy to prevail.

Shortly after the vote, President Biden congratulated Mr. McCarthy in a statement. “As I said after the midterm elections, I’m 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 said.

Since the 44 attempts it took to elect a speaker before the Civil War, the House has not seen so many failed votes. For the first time in 100 years, a speaker did not win on the first ballot in this year’s election. Mr. McCarthy’s failure to win the speaker’s vote halted all housework.

“Well, that was easy,” Mr McCarthy said:after taking the gavel. He then turned to Mr. Jeffries, who received repeated unanimous votes from his caucus this week: “Hakeem, I must warn you, two years ago I got 100% of my conference’s votes.”

On Friday, it looked like Mr McCarthy would have enough votes to win after making several rules and concessions to his 20 opponents.

People familiar with the situation said the settlement resolved many of the political disagreements that lawmakers had anticipated this year over the debt ceiling and spending. They include a pledge to vote on certain initiatives, tie spending cuts to a raise in the debt ceiling, and change the rules to make it easier to remove him as leader. He also agreed to appoint more conservative House Freedom Caucus members to key committees.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida rookie who repeatedly voted against Mr. McCarthy before changing her vote on Friday, said that when someone is truly committed to executing their agenda, they are not afraid to return that power to the representatives .

To avoid a default on the national debt, Congress may have to raise the debt ceiling later this year. According to Rep. French Hill (R., Ark.), a friend of McCarthy’s who participated in the negotiations, lawmakers agreed to make cuts related to debt ceiling legislation. Democrats are confident they will not succumb to Republican pressure to use the debt ceiling as an excuse to cut government programs.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), leader of the Freedom Caucus and a member who switched his vote in favor of Mr. McCarthy, stated that there would be “no apparent rise in the debt ceiling.”

The compromises Mr. McCarthy made, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY), would “make it significantly more likely that the Republican-controlled MAGA house will lead to a government shutdown or bankruptcy with catastrophic consequences for our country,” he said.

According to those with knowledge of the subject, the deal requires the House to pass a resolution outlining its plan to balance the federal budget within ten years. That may include trying to raise the age of eligibility for beneficiaries of programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as well as making significant changes to other programs. Republican support for tax increases is unlikely.

Under current law, federal spending is projected to reach $8.9 trillion by 2032, while federal revenues are projected to reach $6.7 trillion. As a result, cuts to balance the budget would require more than $1 in cuts for every $4 the government plans to spend.

Others familiar with the situation claimed the agreement would simplify legislative changes and how and when lawmakers vote on fiscal measures.

Negotiators also agreed to approve a measure that would prevent a government shutdown by passing a standing resolution that cuts spending if Congress fails to approve appropriation bills within the funding deadline. It seems unlikely that the Senate would pass the legislation and that President Biden would have to sign it. The majority of Republicans oppose using another omnibus budget measure passed by Congress in recent years to fund the government.

In addition, Mr. Perry stated that there were discussions about reducing earmarks or money for certain projects in members’ districts. The fact that their party voted to reintroduce earmarks into budget legislation after years of being outlawed enraged many of McCarthy’s critics.

After days of stalemate, Mr. McCarthy’s political momentum was evident as 15 GOP votes swung in his favor Friday afternoon.

In the 12th round, fourteen MPs switched their votes from “present” or against Mr McCarthy to support him. Then, in the 13th round, Representative Andy Harris of Maryland switched his vote in favor of Mr. McCarthy, becoming the 15th Republican. However, six Republicans continued to vote against McCarthy.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, stressed during a phone call with House Republicans on Friday morning that the deal would not hurt moderate Republicans or strip those who supported Mr. McCarthy of the presidency as lawmakers began to tire. and worried that negotiators were giving far-right opponents too much away, said two people familiar with the situation.

For the first time in the 12th series on Friday, Mr. McCarthy received more votes than the Democratic nominee, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Republicans gave a standing ovation to any legislator who changed a vote.

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Representative David Trone, a Maryland Democrat who had surgery that morning and missed the 12th series, hurried back to the U.S. Capitol to participate in the 13th ballot. Democrats applauded Mr. Trone when he cast his vote in the 13th round while wearing hospital socks and slippers.

Representatives Ken Buck of Colorado and Wesley Hunt of Texas were two of Mr. McCarthy who attended Friday. According to his assistant, Mr. Buck had to go home for a scheduled, non-emergency medical operation. Because his son was born this week, Mr. Hunt returned home. Both went back to the polls on Friday evening.

At 1:39 a.m. on Saturday morning, Mr. McCarthy formally sworn in as speaker. The president then swore by the members of the 118th Congress’ House.

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