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McCarthy Elected U.S. House Speaker


FILE: U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wields the Speaker's gavel after being elected the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in a late night 15th round of voting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 7, 2023.

UPDATING TO CORRECT VOTE TOTAL: On his 15th vote early Saturday, the most in more than a century and a half, California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy finally secured his place as the U.S. House of Representatives "Speaker" - the floor manager and director of that legislative body.

Well past midnight, U.S. House members Saturday finally decided to give Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the most powerful position in the legislative body, "Speaker of the House."

The victory was diminished by the historic four days of endless votes that were held in quest of the majority support of the Members-elect needed to take the gavel. Round after round of votes took place, the name of each lawmaker called followed by a shouted name for Speaker.

Time and again, enough McCarthy opponents were there to deny him the win.

After each round, McCarthy and his supporters would caucus, followed by political outreach to those who would not vote for him. For nearly all of the votes, his rejection by more than five Republicans - the margin by which that party holds the House - would take place, often soon after the voting started.

But by late Friday, enough promises had been made to the dissenters to placate them and secure their support - only to see the fourteenth vote once again go against him.

The fifteenth vote, held in the 0600UTC hour, is where McCarthy finally crossed the finish line with 216 votes, and six House GOP members voting "present.".

Washington pundits have followed the struggle for the Speakership all week, and as the voting went on, many posited that this historic struggle for the post, normally a pro-forma matter at the very opening of a new Congress, would result in a fractious body governing by a razor thin margin that might not hold, issue by issue, to the Republican party's line.

But the mere presence of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives poses a challenge to the White House of President Joseph Biden and his agenda.

Because the House, under the U.S. Constitution, holds the "power of the purse," all U.S. government spending measures must clear the House before Senate consideration and possible approval.

This enables the Republicans in opposition to hold up funding for Biden administration programs. It also enables the House to launch investigations into the administration's positions and actions.

Republicans have made it pointedly clear that they fully intend to probe a list of items ranging from the abrupt U.S. exit from Afghanistan in August 2021 to the alleged possible improprieties of a Biden family member, son Hunter Biden, regarding his business dealings, including a seat on the board of a Ukrainian entity. Republicans have also called for the de-funding of thousands of federal tax agency employees, claiming their hiring was an attack on the middle class.

A Republican majority means that party will chair and control the House's many committees, especially key bodies include the Defense, Intelligence, and Government Oversight committees. They will hold the majority of seats in every House committee, enabling the party to pass its desired legislation as well as block White House and Democratic Party initiatives.

However, the Biden White House has the Democratic Party's control of the Senate. As was the case with the previous president, Donald Trump, having the Senate means the administration can fill federal judgeships, top federal positions, ambassadorial posts, and other positions.

And has been seen with the United States Supreme Court, that ability to nominate and ratify has had profound impacts upon the nation and its people.