It was after midnight when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy finally became Speaker McCarthy after the 15th vote. And, of course, the first action that the House took after that was to adjourn and go home. Next week they will begin working on finalizing the new rules package. The fifteen ballots was the largest number seen since before the Civil War. The fight didn’t end with any sort of revelatory kumbaya moment, however, and it may wind up being something of a pyrrhic victory for the new Speaker. We still don’t know the full details of all of the deals that McCarthy cut with the Freedom Caucus to get over the finish line, but he will be assuming the role in a significantly weaker position than his predecessor. But at least for the moment, all of the members have been sworn in and the People’s House can get down to business when they return. (NY Post)
At long last, a battle for House speaker not seen since the mid-19th century ended early Saturday morning when Rep. Kevin McCarthy peeled off enough Republican holdouts on the 15th ballot to end the four-day marathon contest.
McCarthy, a California Republican, took hold of the gavel after appeasing members of the House Freedom Caucus with promises to cap spending at 2022 levels, allow any one member to call for a vote to oust him, and expand the House Rules Committee to include more members of the Freedom Caucus, among other concessions.
“That was easy, huh?” McCarthy joked to House members in his first speech as speaker. “I never thought we’d get up here.”
There was a definite lack of decorum on the floor at times. Following the 14th failed vote, McCarthy could be seen confronting Matt Gaetz and they were both pointing their fingers at each other, and voices were raised. The audio of that conversation wasn’t picked up by the media’s microphones, but you can watch the exchange in this short clip from CSPAN and check out the body language.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 7, 2023
Gaetz seemed to be the focus of both attention and the “never-Kevin” resistance in the final hours. After speaking with McCarthy, Gaetz was talking to another small group of members when he was approached by Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama. “Approached” was the word that National Review used to describe what happened. Other outlets described it as a “lunge.” It was apparently alarming enough to the other members that Richard Hudson of North Carolina felt compelled to physically grab Rogers and hold him back, appearing to even begin to put his hand over his mouth for a moment. Fortunately, the incident passed without an actual physical altercation.
After the 14th failed vote, when it appeared that McCarthy was finally going to win, some were wondering if Matt Gaetz was actually going to resign, as he seemed to have threatened to do earlier in the day if McCarthy won. But going back to listen to his actual comments, that’s not exactly what he said. There had been rumors circulating earlier on Friday that McCarthy might have been in talks with some moderate Democrats to cut a deal in exchange for them casting “present” votes, lowering the threshold he would need to win. That was the scenario that Gaetz threatened to quit over. (Conservative Brief)
Florida “Firebrand” Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz made it as clear as possible this week that he is opposed to any deal House majority Republicans might strike with Democrats in order to select a speaker after GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California has failed to garner the required 218 votes to secure the position after 11 votes.
Gaetz said flatly he would “resign” from Congress were a Democrat-moderate Republican deal for a speaker to happen…
“If Democrats join up to elect a moderate Republican, I will resign,” Gaetz said, going on to note that no amount of concessions would get him to support McCarthy.
It seems clear that we won’t be seeing a return to the normal processes that have traditionally defined how the House has operated in modern times. McCarthy will be heading into this session with a razor-thin majority. As far as any of the major conservative priorities go, the Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated this week that they are capable of uniting 100% behind their new Minority Leader and McCarthy will have to be able to hold his caucus together and pull off a series of party-line votes.
But one of the concessions he’s already made was to agree to a rule where any single member can call for a vote to remove him as Speaker. The Freedom Caucus may not be able to actually take the gavel away from him, but they could cause significant disruptions in the House if they don’t approve of some of McCarthy’s decisions or feel that he’s not leading in a sufficiently conservative fashion.
We should have a better idea of what sort of concessions were made next week when the committees are established. And if you see some members of the Freedom Caucus holding gavels on those committees, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea why.