Following a dramatic altercation on the House floor between his loyalists and his far-right opponents, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy defeated a conservative uprising and was elected as the 54th speaker of the House early on Saturday morning, ending four days of gridlock, NBC News reported.
The California Republican’s close triumph occurred on the 15th ballot, making it the longest speaker vote in 164 years and the fifth-longest in terms of ballot length in American history.
McCarthy garnered 216 votes—just a few more than he required—and all six of his remaining GOP opponents participated in the voting process. The 212 Democrats came together in support of their choice, New York’s Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
McCarthy, 57, who worked as a House staffer and the minority leader of the California Assembly in Sacramento before being elected to the House in 2006, had always wanted to be speaker of the House. Over the past 14 years, he has steadily ascended the ranks of the House Republican leadership team, serving as chief deputy whip, whip, majority leader, and GOP leader.
“He’s relentless. The man does not quit,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who formerly McCarthy’s leadership team, said in his nominating speech.
After midnight on Saturday, McCarthy took the gavel and delivered an acceptance speech in which he said that the House will serve as a check on President Joe Biden and his policies, the publication reported.
“You know — my father always told me: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” he said. “And now we need to finish strong for the American people.”
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