Last Updated on January 7, 2023
GOP establishment leader Kevin McCarthy has become the Speaker of the House despite garnering just 216 of the 218 votes usually required to take the gavel. After days of negotiations and a whopping 15 rounds of speakership voting, McCarthy was handed the gavel when the remaining six GOP legislators opposed to his campaign changed their votes to “present,” lowering the threshold required to make McCarthy speaker.
Beginning on Tuesday, January 3rd, McCarthy failed time and time again to reach the 218 vote threshold he needed to reach to become Speaker of the House. As negotiations with his conservative opponents were ongoing, he was reported to be caucusing with Democrats, looking for their support or help in lowering the vote threshold, but to no avail.
McCarthy’s 216 vote victory on the 15th round of voting came after midnight, technically on the morning of Saturday, January 7th, with Freedom Caucus Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Bob Good, Eli Crane, Andy Biggs, and Matt Rosendale voting “present,” as opposed to for McCarthy or any other specific speaker candidate.
Others were wooed over to McCarthy’s side by the concessions he’s supposedly made, though nothing is for sure and conservatives say that they’ll be keeping the pressure on the newly-minted Speaker of the House to live up to his end of the bargain.
According to a tweet from Freedom Caucus Rep. Scott Perry, who supported McCarthy in later votes, the American People will have a “much-improved House” and McCarthy has agreed to a border security plan, a revival of the Jeffersonian Motion to Vacate, single subject bills, investigations into the weaponization of federal agencies, and other top conservative priorities.
Additionally, Freedom Caucus members are expected to have great influence over committees in the new Congress but, again, that remains to be seen.
It is unclear if McCarthy has actually agreed to stop meddling in GOP primary races and attacking America First campaigns, something he did in 2022 with FTX money, turning the “red wave” into a pink trickle.