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Rep. Kevin McCarthy sworn in as Speaker of the House

Kevin McCarthy
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks after a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference as he pursues the speaker of the House role when as the 118th Congress convenes, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(WASHINGTON D.C.) — UPDATE— Finally the votes fell in the right place for Kevin McCarthy after midnight and he was elected Speaker of the House. Rep. Matt Gaetz along with several other holdouts voted “present” and the final tally for McCarthy was 216 out of 428 possible votes.  The holdouts successfully negotiated for power to control how the House functions.

An eleventh hour 14th ballot fell short by one vote to name Republican Kevin McCarthy (R-California) Speaker of the House.  A combination of members voting “present” or in favor of McCarthy did not do the trick. McCarthy unsuccessfully tried to become Speaker in 2015, and fails again tonight to become the first back-to-back House leader from California.  Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) was the first holdout to change her vote to “present.”  Congressmen Matt Gaetz of Florida flipped and voted present to McCarthy’s chagrin. Total vote for McCarthy was one shy of majority at 216.

The GOP leader made a number of concessions to win over holdouts as he pushed to claim the gavel by dawn on Saturday which included granting conservative rebels seats on a powerful panel that controls the House floor.

Reportedly, conservatives will hold three seats on the powerful House Rules Committee, according to three people familiar with the agreement.

Because Republicans can only afford to lose two votes on that panel, which determines which bills come to the floor, stacking it with conservatives would enable them to tank legislation before it comes to a full chamber vote.

After flipping 14 votes on the 12th ballot, a 13th ballot failed to turn the tide in McCarthy’s favor and foist him over the majority threshold to claim the speaker’s gavel.  He received 214 votes two shy of the threshold. Six “other” votes were for Republican Jim Jordan.

McCarthy entered the 13th vote in four days expected to win at least 213 votes out of the 431 total members, only four votes shy of the 217 to win a majority of the ballots being cast Friday afternoon.

McCarthy was nominated by Oklahoma Republican Rep. James Comer, who is in line to chair the House Oversight Committee in the 118th Congress.

Following Comer’s speech, McCarthy moved off the floor, potentially to take part in the final negotiations with some of the seven remaining Republican holdouts.

When the issue of House Speaker is settled, the members of the chamber can move forward with swearing in the members-elect and appointing committee members. Then, Republicans will begin to seek accountability from key Democrats.

The U.S. House of Representatives entered its fourth day of voting to elect a new speaker on Friday, falling on the grim two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

With McCarthy as Speaker, Republicans vow to also roll back some of the wasteful spending Democrats engaged in such as funding the hiring of 87,000 IRS agents and to investigate the origins of COVID, Hunter Biden’s laptop and potential pay-for-play by the Biden family.

All 212 Democrats have unanimously backed House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies for each vote.