Kevin McCarthy Issues Warning To Hakeem Jefferies

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Kevin McCarthy’s fight to become Speaker of the House finally paid off when after 15 rounds of voting on Saturday he was finally in the leadership position.

After the longest vote for the gavel since the Civil War, McCarthy’s victory was confirmed on the final ballot at 12.30am on Saturday morning when four Republican hardliners caved in by voting ‘present.’

The Republican House got to his win by making major concessions to the group of Freedom Caucus conservatives who refused to drop their demands for more conservative actions in the House. After four protracted days of multiple elections and flagging patience, McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, leaving him just a few shy of seizing the gavel for the new Congress.
As the House resumed for the late night session of Friday, the California Republican had been on the cusp of victory in the 14th round but fell one vote short.

Tempers were short, but after the 15th ballot, a ‘USA’ chant broke out among raucous Republicans as the House Clerk, Cheryl Johnson, announced McCarthy would lead the 118th Congress.

On the final ballot, four Republican holdouts – Reps. Bob Good, Va., Eli Crane, Ariz., Matt Rosendale, Mont., and Andy Biggs, Ariz., all switched their votes to ‘present,’ giving McCarthy the majority vote he needed for victory. They joined Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado in switching to ‘present’ votes after days of voting for a candidate other than McCarthy.

While taking about Rep. Matt Gaetz, McCarthy told CNN, ‘At the end of the night, Matt got everybody there from the point that nobody voted against the other way, so it actually helped unite people.’

At the final vote, even Gaetz stood to clap with the most of the rest of the caucus when McCarthy cast his vote for himself. It had been reported that Gaetz would vote ‘yes’ for McCarthy on this final round, but he did not do so after it became clear McCarthy would win even if he continued to vote present.
Moments earlier absolute mayhem broke out on the House floor as the 14th Speaker’s ballot left McCarthy one vote short.

The final vote tally was 216 for McCarthy, 212 for Democrat Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and six ‘present’ votes. Rep. McCarthy’s opening speech then sparked response after he was finally sworn in as Speaker of the House.

‘That was easy, huh?’ McCarthy began in his victory speech.

He looked over at Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, whose party was united behind him throughout the race for speaker. ‘Hakeem, I gotta warn ya, two years ago I got 100 percent of the vote from my conference,’ McCarthy continued in a bid to act as peacemaker. ‘Leader Jeffries there will be times we agree. And many times we will differ. I promise our debates will be passionate but they will never be personal,’ McCarthy said.

‘Now, the hard work begins.’ he continued. ‘We’re going to pass bills to fix the nation’s challenges from wide open southern borders, to American last energy policies to woke indoctrination in our schools,’ he added. ‘We will use the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena to get the job done.’

The new Speaker added: ‘We will also address America’s long-term challenges: the debt and the Chinese Communist Party. Congress must speak with one voice on both of these issues.’

He said one of the House’s ‘very first hearings’ would be on the U.S.-Mexico border and the first bill it brought forward would be to ‘repeal funding for 87,000 new IRS agents.’

Speaking to reporters, McCarthy paid tribute to the support of ex-President Donald Trump during the voting process. McCarthy said of Trump, ‘He was with me from the beginning — somebody wrote the doubt of whether he was there — and he was all in. He would call me and he would call others. And he really was — I was just talking to him tonight — helping get those final votes.’

Trump was also in the background during the negotiations, working to bring the Republicans together.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a McCarthy ally and Trump ally, reportedly went up to Rosendale and told him that was Trump on the phone and that Rosendale needed to speak with him. ‘Don’t you ever do me like that,’ Rosendale reportedly told her. Trump reportedly also spoke with Biggs and Gaetz, daily Mail reports.

McCarthy agreed to concessions brought up by the dissenting Freedom Caucus members, including allowing more members of the conservative caucus to serve on the House Rules Committee, which dictates what bills make it to the House floor. He also agreed that his leadership PAC would stay out of safe primary races, therefore allowing conservatives to challenge more moderate Republicans in red districts. McCarthy also agreed to a committee to go after weaponization of the Department of Justice and FBI, modeled after late Sen. Frank Church, who oversaw investigations into intelligence agencies.

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