After 15 rounds of voting, McCarthy finally elected US House speaker

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Kevin McCarthy has been elected as the speaker of the US house of representatives.

McCarthy was finally elected Saturday morning after 15 rounds of voting following days of horsetrading among his Republican members in the house.

He won with a razor-thin margin of 216 votes against Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic house leader, who secured 212 votes.

McCarthy secured the gavel only after giving in to the demands of far-right legislators.

BACKGROUND

McCarthy’s speakership bid was blocked by a rebellious group of far-right lawmakers from his party who refused to back him.

In November, the Republicans took control of the US house of representatives by a slender margin of 222 to 212 in the 435-seat chamber — but the Democrats won the senate.

McCarthy had failed to secure the speakership after three rounds on Tuesday. After another eight rounds of contested stalemate on Wednesday and Thursday, McCarthy’s followership wore thin as the contest was prolonged.

He received 201 votes in Thursday’s first two rounds of voting, but they dropped to 200 in subsequent votes.

Interestingly, Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and one of McCarthy’s detractors, had voted for former President Donald Trump to be the speaker in one round of voting on Thursday.

US law does not require the speaker to be a member of the House.

However, the Democrats have consistently voted in unison for Hakeem Jeffries, the party leader in the house.

Jeffries is the first black person ever to lead a party in US Congress.

The voting was then adjourned for a 12th round on Friday.

The impasse is the longest since 1859 when the US house of representatives failed to pick a speaker after 44 ballots.

During the 14th round of voting on Friday night, Gaetz withheld his vote, sparking a confrontation with Mike Rogers, his fellow Republican.

THE CONCESSIONS

To secure the seat of the speaker, McCarthy offered a number of concessions to the far-right lawmakers, including offering them a seat on the rules committee, which sets the terms for debate on legislation in the chamber.

McCarthy also consented to lower the bar for calling a vote on speaker impeachment — that only one lawmaker can raise the motion to remove the speaker.

The concession also includes spending cuts on McCarthy’s leadership.

 

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