After several days of intense negotiations and 15 rounds of voting, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy has finally been elected speaker of the House of Representatives.
McCarthy secured 216 of the 428 votes cast on Friday, narrowly defeating Democrats’ Hakeem Jeffries, who received 212 votes. This marks the first time in a century that a speaker was not elected in the first round.
The election was closely watched as McCarthy faced opposition from right-wing dissenters within his own party, who only narrowly gave Republicans control of the House in the November midterm elections.
These dissenters presented a number of demands, including the ability to bring a no-confidence vote on the speaker and greater influence on the House rules and appropriations committees, which help decide which bills can move forward in the chamber. The details of the possible deal that saw most of them change their votes in favor of McCarthy have not been released.
Despite the challenges, McCarthy was able to secure the necessary support and will now replace Nancy Pelosi as speaker. In his first speech, McCarthy vowed to be a “check” on President Joe Biden’s policies and to intensify oversight of the administration.
He also stated that he plans to launch a congressional investigation into the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter, an issue that Democrats have dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
With McCarthy finally ascending to the speaker’s chair, the House can now begin swearing in newly elected lawmakers and the 2023-24 session can commence. The lengthy and contentious process leading up to McCarthy’s election highlights the challenges he may face in unifying a deeply divided House and effectively leading the chamber.