Kevin McCarthy triumphs as speaker of the house

Kevin McCarthy addressed his fellow representatives in the House Chambers following his election as speaker of the House. Photo credit: Abigayl Finch

Kevin McCarthy, a Republican congressman from California, won House speaker late Friday night with a slim majority of 216 votes. Democrats elected Hakeem Jeffries, who will be the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in congress.

The campaign for the House speaker in 2023 was the longest in over 200 years. In 1821, It took Phillip Barbour from Virginia 12 votes to be elected speaker.

Why did it take so long? Instead of unifying behind McCarthy, 20 conservative members of the party declined their support vote after vote.

Their demands: Expand far-right influence within the House through its procedural rules, and refuse to compromise to the Democrats’ agenda.

For the House to begin proceedings, representatives have to elect a speaker. If that doesn’t happen, the House grinds to a halt. Members can’t be sworn in, procedures can’t be voted on and legislation can’t be introduced.

However, McCarthy negotiated with his colleagues to get the necessary votes and begin the legislative session on the hill.

Representatives will convene to determine rules and procedures governing the House for the session beginning Monday.