It took a marathon 15 votes—and nearly came to physical blows—but eventually all the GOP members who for months have opposed Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker of the House folded. And in the wee hours of Saturday, he took the position he’s coveted for years.
Unlike the monotony of much of the week, the night had plenty of drama, culminating in McCarthy supporter Rep. Mike Rogers being physically restrained from Rep. Matt Gaetz after Friday night’s first vote.
But McCarthy, a 57-year-old California lawmaker, now succeeds Democrat Nancy Pelosi to become the 53rd speaker of the House. Though he secured the speaker’s gavel, concessions he made to a bloc of House Freedom Caucus members will likely decrease his power. The extent of the concessions, and the fine details of the agreement, remain unknown.
After a dozen failed votes, the outlook for McCarthy began to turn after late-night negotiations Thursday in which he began making concessions to Freedom Caucus members’ demands. He won over 14 of his 20 GOP detractors in a noon vote Friday, setting up the 14th vote of the week at 10 p.m. Clinching the remaining hold-outs—and getting past 50 percent of all votes cast—meant McCarthy could take no chances so two Republicans who left D.C. due to emergencies came back to boost his numbers. Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado returned after a medical appointment, and freshman Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas flew back after having gone home to be with his wife and their prematurely born son—who had been in a neonatal intensive care unit.