McCarthy Wins US House Speakership

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on Saturday — finally reaching the winning vote threshold after a record 15 rounds of voting, the longest vote since 1860.

McCarthy Wins US House Speakership
Image credit: CNN

Facts

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on Saturday — finally reaching the winning vote threshold after a record 15 rounds of voting, the longest vote since 1860.
  • Voting began Jan. 3, but many members of the Republican Freedom Caucus refused to vote for McCarthy without a series of concessions. On Friday there was a breakthrough as 14 votes flipped in his favor on the 12th ballot.
  • McCarthy secured the 216 votes, which traditionally would be two short of a majority needed, on the 15th ballot. With six remaining GOP dissenters voting "present" rather than for other candidates, as they did in previous rounds, the required majority was reduced.
  • In order to gain the votes from hardline Republicans, McCarthy agreed to reduce the threshold of members needed to bring removal of the Speaker to a vote to just one. Other reported concessions included a rule that a move to raise the debt ceiling must be accompanied by spending cuts, establishment of a House Select Committee on the "weaponization of the federal government," as well as an agreement to vote individually on 12 appropriation bills rather than one omnibus spending bill.
  • During his inaugural speech, McCarthy said, "it's time for us to be a check and provide some balance to the president's policies,” while he also committed to lowering the cost of living and to reduce "wasteful" Washington spending.
  • Republicans won a narrow majority, 222-212, in November’s midterms to take control of the House. Throughout the process of selecting a Speaker, Democrats voted unanimously for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who’s now the minority leader.

Sources: BBC News, CNN, Forbes, Axios, and NPR Online News.

Narratives

  • Democratic narrative, as provided by CNN. Although McCarthy can celebrate finally being Speaker, the role has been gutted of most of its power, which he’s handed off to ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus members. Having repeatedly miscalculated the size of his own support, McCarthy now finds himself at the feet of radical Republicans.
  • Republican narrative, as provided by FOX News. Passionate debate is the centerpiece of democracy, and that’s what Republicans were doing over the days it took to get McCarthy elected Speaker. Now that he has the gavel, McCarthy will continue to prove he’s a great unifier of his party, and Republicans will deliver on their promises, including plans to reduce spending, tackle illegal immigration and hold Democrats to account.
  • Pro-Trump narrative, as provided by PJ Media. As the Speaker vote dragged on, the mainstream media prematurely reported on former Pres. Donald Trump’s waning influence. Little did they know that Trump would reward McCarthy’s loyalty by making sure the new Speaker’s victory would be assured by convincing the last remaining holdouts to end their obstruction.
  • Cynical narrative, as provided by Washington Post. At the end of the day, Congress’ dysfunction will continue because of its members’ devotion to party over country. There was no better example of this than Democrats voting unanimously for a Speaker candidate who had no chance of winning. With the margins between the parties razor thin, only bipartisan cooperation will get anything passed, but it doesn’t look like the parties will be doing anything to help each other.

Predictions