Kevin McCarthy’s victory as House Speaker alarms opponents
January 26, 2023
Five days, 15 ballots, one man. Kevin McCarthy had America’s attention on his journey to House Speaker. Falling short of his necessary 218 votes not once but 14 times, this stands as the longest election for speaker in 164 years. Millions tuned in and watched history be made.
“I never thought [we would] get here,” McCarthy said during a live stream of the election.
The House speaker is the primary leader of the House and third in line to be president if necessary. Their job consists of maintaining order in and out of the House, managing proceedings, along with supervising and directing the daily order of business. The speaker is also responsible for assigning committee leadership along with naming and selecting members for the committee.
Until a speaker is chosen everything, such as the ongoing Biden investigation or passing new laws, is put on hold. With no speaker there is no new congress, which is why the election usually finishes day one with the first ballot.
McCarthy is the republican candidate, which should have guaranteed him an easy win if he had the unanimous support of his party. However, with such a slim majority he could not afford to lose over five votes and without the entire support of his party he lost an average of 20 votes per round, causing the election to go on for nearly a week.
Putting concerns aside, McCarthy winning the election has allowed the 118 congress members to finally be sworn in as of Jan. 12. With them is the first ever gen-z lawmaker, the longest serving congress woman, and the first Black minority leader in Jeffries. ”
His opponent, democratic Hakeem Jeffries, did have the unanimous support of his party but with no republicans changing sides he only had a total of 212 votes each round, six short of the 218 needed votes to win. If enough republican members voted as present, not for any runners or against, the votes needed would have been lowered and Jeffries could have won.
Fortunately for him, McCarthy was able to get most members to turn their votes over to him after making several concessions, the act of giving up or allowing something to end a disagreement. One concession was that only one congress member is needed to bring a motion of vacate for the House speaker, meaning any one member has the power to demand a vote on removing or keeping the current speaker at any moment. Much like the election, only 218 members need to vote yes for the speaker to be removed from their position.
“[I am] not afraid…I [will not] be a [weak] speaker,” McCarthy said in an interview with CNN in their article, GOP deadlocked over House speaker vote.
Though not everyone shares McCarthy’s confidence, the concession’s made have led to other government officials growing concerned with the direction this will take the country downe. The Freedom Caucus consists of republicans on the farthest right who are often considered more conservative. Because McCarthy made a concession that would allow the Freedom Caucus to become representatives on committees in congress, concern has arisen from other government officials and the public.
“[McCarthy] will cause a government shutdown or a default with devastating consequences to our country,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with CNN in their article, McCarthy elected House speaker after days of painstaking negotiations and failed votes.
Putting concerns aside, McCarthy winning the election has allowed the 118 congress members to finally be sworn in as of Jan. 12. With them is the first ever gen-z lawmaker, the longest serving congress woman, and the first Black minority leader in Jeffries.
With the election over one thing is clear; history has been and is continuing to be made. Only time will tell if it will be to warn or encourage others in the future.
“Now the hard work begins,” McCarthy said during a livestream. “What we do here today, next week, next month, next year, will set the tone for everything that follows.”