McCarthy Elected Speaker of the House


Level, Brandon B

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Brandon Level

After 14 votes, Kevin McCarthy was finally elected to the position of Speaker of the House. 20 Republican holdouts had been preventing McCarthys election since Tuesday, January 3rd, when the newly elected 118th congress first convened.

Led by Matt Gaetz was a group of over 20 Republicans from the House Freedom Caucus which is composed of more right leaning conservative Republicans. The group of congressmen and women from the Freedom Caucus were labeled “Never-McCarthyers,” and those that were for McCarthy were labeled “McCarthyers.” The far right had a hefty list of demands that many thought were out of reach for McCarthy and his more moderate Republican followers in the House.

Gaetz and his group nominated numerous people during their time trying to take the speakership, from Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan, and even Donald Trump. Byron Donalds, one of the few black people in the Republican caucus, and their fourth candidate, ended up with the overwhelming nomination. He received one vote from Chip Roy in the first round of voting but was unanimously chosen as the nomination by 20 dissenters in the fourth round. Many on the left think that Byron Donalds was only appointed for his racial background considering he is one of few black members in the Republican caucus and has little to no experience leading in any capacity. Formerly working in the Floridian government and has worked for one term in the House of Representatives.

The Democrats were in lock-step, planning, organizing, and voting for Hakeem Jeffries, from Brooklyn, New York as their nominee.

When a new Congress starts, as it did on January 3rd, the House of Representatives needs 221 members to agree on a speaker; none of the 3-4 candidates in each vote had received that, due to more far right congressmen and women splitting the Republican vote.

McCarthys’ inevitable win was due to some of the members from the freedom caucus voting present, meaning that they were there, but chose to abstain from voting for any candidate. The vote for McCarthy could’ve gone very badly if any mathematical errors were made. If any number of Republicans too high voted present, rather than voting for McCarthy or another candidate, this could lower the threshold low enough to the point that Democrat Hakeem Jeffries could take the speakership by surprise. With the chaos that went on in the Senate at the time, this isn’t too far fetched.

Something notable that came out of this speakership battle was the failed Trump endorsement of Kevin McCarthy. 

“Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY,” Trump wrote. “REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.”

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., among others, didn’t care that former President Donald Trump backed Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House.

“Endorsements don’t matter to me,” Ralph Norman said. He is one of 20 Republican holdouts from the Freedom Cuacus who blocked Kevin McCarthy from winning the majority he needs on a series of deadlocked votes for House speaker. “This is our fight here.”

“Let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us — even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off,” Boebert said on the House floor two days after the first vote took place. “I think it actually needs to be reversed; the president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes, and it’s time to withdraw.”

This speakership battle opened a new divide in the Republican Party, and what some consider to be a third block of the party opening up. The rinos, who are more moderate, this far right block that has now emerged, and even former President Trump being pushed towards the center of the party. The parties next steps will be to choose a RNC Chairman, and that fight between Ronna McDaniel and Harmeet Dhillon is still ongoing.