Kevin McCarthy Elected as Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress

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It took 15 votes beginning Jan. 3, but Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finally gained enough votes to be elected the 55th Speaker of the House of Representatives in a nail-bitingly close election that ran past midnight in the lower chamber of the U.S. Capitol.

McCarthy’s 216 votes total bested Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who received the votes of all 212 Democrats present in the chamber in all but one of the 15 votes that began a little after noon Jan. 3 when the 118th Congress convened for the day. Jeffries received 211 on an earlier vote when Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) missed balloting for surgery.

McCarthy’s victory was made possible when the six remaining populist conservative dissidents who had opposed him from the first vote all voted present. That reduced the number of members voting to 428, which reduced McCarthy’s magic number from 218 to 216.

When it became clear that McCarthy had finally secured the Speaker’s chair, the Republican side of the House chamber celebrated, with many hugging their new leader, shaking hands, laughing, and slapping one another on the back. McCarthy gave an especially spirited hug to his House Majority Leader, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). McCarthy also posed for selfies with a number of his fellow Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

During a 14th vote about an hour and a half earlier, when everybody in the chamber realized at the end of the roll call that only one more vote was needed to put McCarthy into the Speaker’s seat, highly animated conversations took place as members tried to persuade Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) or Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)  to switch their vote.

But then Gaetz changed his mind and agreed to vote for McCarthy, and a motion to adjourn was defeated, and a 15th vote was to then be taken. Gaetz ended up voting present during the 15th round of voting.

By Mark Tapscott and Madalina Vasiliu

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