McCarthy Elected as House Speaker on 15th Vote in Historic Run

Newly elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy celebrates after being annointed on the 15th round of voting at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 7, 2023.


Kevin McCarthy was named as the new speaker of the US House of Representatives on Saturday, ending days of bitter Republican infighting that ground the lower chamber of Congress to a standstill.

The 57-year-old Californian needed a simple majority to be elected as Washington’s top legislator, who presides over House business and is second in line to the presidency.

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The U.S. House of Representatives elected GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker in a dramatic 15th vote early Saturday, after a contentious four days and 14 failed ballots — the longest the chamber has gone leaderless in a century.

In a tense showdown on the House floor in the middle of the 14th failed vote at around 11 p.m. ET Friday, McCarthy personally confronted GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

Despite making numerous concessions to win support from them and other far right Republicans over the course of the week, they still refused to support McCarthy outright.

They, instead, joined four other Republicans in the 15th and final vote by voting “present,” which helped him clinch the gavel by reducing the number of votes he needed to get to a majority. He won with 216 out of 428 possible votes.

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Support for McCarthy dwindled over the first three days of voting from 203 votes on Tuesday to 200 by the 11th vote on Thursday, falling far short of the number needed to win the speakership.

He needed support from more than half of the lawmakers who cast their ballots. With 222 Republicans in the House, he could only afford to lose a handful of votes.

All 212 Democrats have unanimously backed House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies for each vote, except the 12th vote in which one member was out for a minor surgery.

Analysts have warned that the tensions over what’s typically a ceremonial election could signal that the GOP-run House will be dysfunctional throughout 2023 and 2024.

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“In our view, the challenge to McCarthy underscores the difficulty that a narrow and fractured GOP majority will have in working with Democrats in the Senate on key issues such as the debt limit, government funding, and Ukraine in 2023,” said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets, in a research note ahead of McCarthy’s election.

United State Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Republicans have taken control of the House thanks to wins in November’s midterm elections, returning to power in that chamber after four years in the minority.

But the GOP’s hopes for a strong red wave two years into President Joe Biden’s term were dashed, as the party has claimed just a small House majority and Democrats have maintained their grip on the Senate.

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U.S. stocks SPX DJIA closed sharply higher Friday as a monthly employment report showed that wage growth had slowed even as the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, fueling hopes that the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes aimed at taming inflation are starting to have the desired effect.

Watch the live voting

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