Kevin McCarthy’s Difficult Road to Leadership


via Twitter

Kevin McCarthy, new Speaker of the House, tweeted on January 9, 2023, how the concessions he made to the Freedom Caucus will bring transparency and power to “we the people.”

On Jan 6th, republican Kevin McCarthy of California was elected as the Speaker of the House, ending the four chaotic days of GOP infighting, and finally returning the legislative branch to a functional state. But what exactly happened over these four days?

Firstly, what is the speaker of the house? The speaker of the house is the presiding officer of the house of representatives. This is the most powerful position in Washington, as the Speaker of the House acts as the leader of the majority party, allowing them to further progress legislative initiatives. The house elects a new speaker every 2 years, or every time a new congress occurs.

On Jan 3rd, the 118th Congress began, and voting for a new speaker started. Republicans held a majority in the house, and therefore had the power to elect a republican representative. Rep. Kevin McCarthy had received the majority of the republican votes, but due to a group of hardline conservatives from the Freedom Caucus, he did not receive enough votes and no one was elected. This continued for the next 3 ballots.

On Jan 4th, Donald Trump stated his support for Kevin McCarthy and urged republicans to vote for him. This changed little, and votes remained similar for ballots 4-6.

On Jan 5th, McCarthy began offering concessions to the republicans refusing to vote for him, such as promising that a single member could begin a motion to remove him as speaker. Ballots 7-11 were cast with no result.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) pulls Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) back as he spoke with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

On Jan 6th, McCarthy was only one vote short of becoming speaker, resulting in him attempting to personally convince Lauren Bobert and Matt Gatez to switch their votes. Upon failing, Mike Rodgers of Alabama attempts to physically confront Gatez, but is restrained and removed. Majorie Taylor Greene then called Donald Trump and attempted to get him to convince the hardliners, after which they agreed to vote for McCarthy. On the 15th ballot, McCarthy is finally elected speaker of the house.

When the United States was young, physical violence and political tension were common, but as the country grew, more and more laws and compromises led to increased regulation and stability. Today, it is rare to see such disagreements stall an entire government branch, and rarer still to see fights nearly break out on the House floor. It is moments like this that remind us how tough the government’s job is, and how far it has come since its founding.