The nation’s hottest political TV drama came to an end early Saturday when California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy was finally elected Speaker of the House after a wild climax to the chaos that has unfolded on the floor of Congress during the past week.
McCarthy prevailed on the 15th election for the powerful post that steers the policy agenda and the rulebook for House of Representatives. The Capitol has been the site of extraordinary scenes of newly elected, far-right Representatives balking at McCarthy’s leadership as a protest against the Washington, D.C. status quo. The final tally for McCarthy was 216 votes, with another six defiant Republicans voting “present” for election.
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The late-night session included scenes of GOP firebrands Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida taking the spotlight in getting McCarthy over the last hurdle to grab the gavel. At one point, according to CNN, on the 14th round of voting North Carolina GOP member Richard Hudson was seen physically restraining Alabama Republican Mike Rogers from confronting Gaetz, the flashy and controversial over his refusal to break the logjam over McCarthy’s ascent .
McCarthy briefly addressed reporters in the halls of Congress around 2 a.m. ET, and he was quick to mention the contributions of former President Donald Trump in rallying votes for his cause. That was deemed shocking by numerous commentators as it came in the early hours of the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot in the Capitol that was inflamed by the former President’s dangerous rhetoric and misinformation about the 2020 election.
“He was with me from the beginning,” McCarthy said. “He was all-in,” describing Trump as making calls and pushing the few dozen recalcitrant MAGA members “for the party and for the country.” Of Trump he added, “No one should doubt his power.”
McCarthy only briefly addressed the national debate over his tactics to garnering the majority vote. He quoted his father as often saying, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
McCarthy has represented the Bakersfield area as well as parts of northern Los Angeles County in the House since 2006.
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