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Finally!

At long last, a battle for House speaker not seen since the mid-19th century ended Friday night when Kevin McCarthy peeled off enough Republican holdouts on the 15th ballot to end the four-day marathon contest.

McCarthy, a California Republican, will take hold of the gavel after appeasing members of the House Freedom Caucus with promises to cap spending at 2022 levels, allow any one member to call for a vote to oust him, and expand the House Rules Committee to include more members of the Freedom Caucus, among other concessions. 

Friday’s late night voting began after the House reconvened at 10 p.m. McCarthy failed the first two speakership votes – the 12th and 13th ballots of the week – earlier in the day.

He was also dealt a stunning defeat, by one vote, on the 14th ballot in a roll call filled with high drama. It was his best performance since voting began on Tuesday. 

McCarthy finally won the 15th ballot with 216 votes. Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries placed second with 212 votes from the entire Democratic caucus, which was unified on all ballots cast this week. 

CNN reported on Friday that McCarthy and his allies had been working during the break between sessions to convince holdouts to vote “present” instead of for another candidate, in order for the threshold of votes needed for McCarthy to become speaker to drop. 

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
Day four has come to an end with McCarthy gaining enough votes to become speaker.
Liu Jie/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com

McCarthy flipped 15 previous GOP holdout votes following the 13th ballot, leaving Andy Biggs of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Eli Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, and Matt Rosendale of Montana as the remaining GOP opposition to his speakership. 

On the 15th ballot Friday night, Boebert, Gaetz, Biggs, Good, Rosendale, and Crane stopped voting for opposition candidates and helped hand McCarthy the speaker’s gavel. 

Boebert voted “present” on the 14th and 15th ballots. Gaetz, who skipped his turn in the roll call on the 14th ballot and waited until the end to cast his own present vote, also voted present on the 15th.

Biggs, Crane, Good, and Rosendale remained in the anti-McCarthy camp after the 14th ballot, with Crane and Rosendale voting for Biggs, and Good and Biggs voting for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), but they all switched to present votes on the 15th try.

Before the House reconvened, Gaetz told Fox News that he was “running out of things to ask for” from McCarthy.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who nominated McCarthy on the 14th ballot, could be seen pleading with Gaetz after the roll call, trying in vain to get him to change his vote.

At one point, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama lunged at Gaetz duing the House floor negotiations and had to be restrained by Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina.

McHenry said Friday night that McCarthy has “grown as a leader” during this week’s turmoil.

“He’s relentless. The man does not quit,” McHenry said, adding that McCarthy led the Republicans back to the majority in the House and is the “right person to lead us over the coming two years.”

After McCarthy is sworn in as House speaker, he will swear-in the rest of the members of the 118th Congress. 

The House was expected to move quickly to approve a rules package after members are sworn in. The rules package is a key component to the deal struck between McCarthy and the faction of Republicans against his speakership. 

However, reports emerged after midnight that the rules vote would not take place tonight and be pushed back until Monday.

The House GOP leader was confident coming into Friday night’s vote that he would prevail. 

“We’ll come back tonight, and I believe at that time, we’ll have the votes to finish this once and for all,” McCarthy told reporters before the members reconvened.

McCarthy confirmed Friday that he was “willing” to change the House’s rules to allow a single member to make a so-called “motion to vacate,” which would trigger a vote on removing the speaker.

Other accommodations McCarthy reportedly made to sway Freedom Caucus members included mandating 72 hours between the posting of bills and votes on them, and trying for a constitutional amendment that would impose term limits on members of the House and Senate.



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