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Kevin McCarthy wins speaker race after a grueling 4 days and 15 rounds of voting

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Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker
Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker on 15th round of voting 02:46

Washington — After a stunning turn of events Friday night that forced a 15th ballot in the race for House speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, finally secured enough votes shortly after midnight to become speaker of the House.

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy smiles after winning the 15th vote in the House chamber as the House enters the fifth day trying to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington on early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. Alex Brandon / AP

His victory followed four days of voting and persistent negotiations with far-right members of the Republican conference, who kept a win at bay until the 15th round of voting. The selection of a speaker finally paved the way for those elected in November to take their oaths of office and the House to organize. The chamber is set to vote Monday to adopt a rules package governing the 118th Congress, which includes some of the concessions made by McCarthy in talks with conservative holdouts.

APTOPIX Congress
Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy holds the gavel on early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. Andrew Harnik / AP

McCarthy won 216-212, convincing enough of his GOP colleagues who had voted against him to support his bid. The six remaining Republicans who withheld their support for McCarthy up to the final ballot — Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Eli Crane of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana — voted present. 

"Therefore, the Honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California, having received a majority of the votes cast, is duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives,," House clerk Cheryl Johnson declared at 12:38 a.m. as she read the final vote count.

Chants of "USA, USA!" broke out in the House chamber. Republicans broke out in raucous applause, and Rep. Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, embraced McCarthy, as the final Republican in the alphabetical roll call, Rep.-elect Ryan Zinke of Montana, cast his vote.

A victory for McCarthy on Friday night had suddenly seemed out of reach after he lost the 14th round by a single vote. Gaetz voted "present" at the last minute, and McCarthy needed his vote. Gaetz's move angered some of his colleagues, including GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, who was physically restrained from charging Gaetz by Rep. Richard Hudson. 

APTOPIX Congress
Rep. Richard Hudson, left, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz and others on the House floor on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.  Andrew Harnik / AP

The move by Gaetz, and McCarthy's failure to claim the gavel again, left the chamber on the cusp of an adjournment for the weekend, with Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina offering a motion to halt the proceedings for the day and adjourn. But just as Republicans appeared to have enough votes to do so, commotion ensued on the floor, and Republicans rushed to change their votes to hold another round. McCarthy told his GOP colleagues to take their seats for "one more time." 

The 15th ballot proved to seal the win for McCarthy, who has risen through the ranks of GOP leadership and led the conference as minority leader during the past four years of Democratic House control. McCarthy's wife, Judy, looked on from the gallery during the vote. 

McCarthy began chipping away at the deficit in votes against him Friday morning in the first vote, when 14 Republicans switched their votes from another GOP nominee or "present" to McCarthy. That was also the first vote in which the California Republican earned more votes than Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries. 

McCarthy and his allies then focused on trying to sway the remaining holdouts, and waiting for Republicans who had left town for medical and family emergency reasons to return to Washington, D.C. 

What got Kevin McCarthy over the hump? 03:09

The race made history, requiring the most ballots in more than 150 years to successfully elect a speaker. 

McCarthy succeeds Nancy Pelosi, who served as speaker twice, in 2007 and in 2019. 

To win enough support, McCarthy had to make a number of concessions he had said he wouldn't consider earlier this week. He agreed to allow a single member to call for a vote of no confidence in the speaker, and he agreed to give the House Freedom Caucus three seats on the House Rules Committee, a key panel that shapes legislation before it receives a vote on the floor. 

Eventually, the ability for a single member to spark an attempt to take down McCarthy could come back to haunt the newly minted speaker. 

 

House adjourns until Monday at 5 p.m.

Scalise offered a motion that the House adjourn until 5 p.m. Monday, and it was agreed to by voice vote, capping four straight days of voting that close with McCarthy's election as speaker.

By Melissa Quinn
 

McCarthy sworn in, administers oath of office to new members

GOP Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, the dean of the House, administered the oath of office to McCarthy.

"We want to offer a bipartisan congratulations to the gentleman from California," Rogers, who has served in the House since 1981, said.

McCarthy then took his oath of office.

As the new speaker, he then administered the oath of office to all members-elect en masse, four days after they arrived in Washington for the start of the new Congress.

"Congratulations, you are now members of the 118th Congress," McCarthy declared.

Special Report: Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker on 15th ballot 41:57

Members applauded and hugged one another.

GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, of New York, and Aguilar, a Democrat, then announced the remaining leadership posts for their respective parties: Scalise as majority leader, Jeffries as minority leader, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota as majority whip, Clark as minority whip.

By Melissa Quinn
 

McCarthy delivers first remarks as speaker: "I never give up"

The House clerk then appointed a committee to escort McCarthy into the chamber. The sergeant-at-arms announced him from the rear of the chamber. McCarthy hugged members as he walked to the front. Jeffries then welcomed the 118th Congress into session and thanked his Democratic colleagues for their "generous" words in nominating him to be speaker, and he acknowledged "Speaker Emerita" Pelosi, who he said will go down in history "as the greatest speaker of all time."

"It is now my solemn responsibility to hand over the people's gavel," Jeffries said, giving the gavel to McCarthy. 

McCarthy tried it out on the speaker's lectern at 1:14 a.m.

"That was easy, huh?" he joked. "I never thought we'd get up here."

APTOPIX Congress
Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., holds the gavel after accepting it from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of N.Y., on the House floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. Andrew Harnik / AP

He thanked Cheryl Johnson, the presiding clerk, for her work this week. 

"My father always told me, it's not how you start," McCarthy said. "It's how you finish. And now we need to finish strong for the American people."

The new speaker took a moment to address Jeffries. 

"I promise our debates will be passionate. But they will never be personal. That's my commitment to you," McCarthy said. And he quipped to Jeffries that two years ago he had won 100% of his conference's vote, too.

McCarthy said his primary responsibility is not to his conference or even the Congress, but to the country. 

"And now, the hard work begins," McCarthy said. 

McCarthy listed some of the things he hopes to accomplish in the 118th Congress. 

He said the very first bill Republicans will bring to the floor would repeal the funding for 87,000 additional IRS workers under the Inflation Reduction Act. 

He said the Capitol will now be "fully open" to all Americans, so they can witness what happens in the people's house. COVID restrictions have limited visitors, and the Capitol assault two years ago resulted in tighter security measures.

McCarthy also said the first hearing would be held on the southern border to address the migrant crisis.

"I hope one thing is clear after this week: I never give up," McCarthy said as he wrapped up his speech. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden congratulates McCarthy and says he's "prepared to work with Republicans when I can"

President Biden released a statement congratulating McCarthy, saying he is "prepared to work with Republicans when I can." 

"Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House," Mr. Biden said.

"The American people expect their leaders to govern in a way that puts their needs above all else, and that is what we need to do now," Mr. Biden said. "As I said after the midterms, I am prepared to work with Republicans when I can and voters made clear that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well. Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin."

By Kathryn Watson
 

Trump congratulates McCarthy

Former President Donald Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, to extend congratulations to McCarthy following his election to the speakership.

"The 'Speaker' selection process, as crazy as it may seem, has made it all much bigger and more important than if done the more conventional way. Congratulations to Kevin McCarthy and our GREAT Republican Party!" he wrote.

Trump had endorsed McCarthy for speaker in November and reiterated his support earlier this week as the California Republican faced opposition from a bloc of 20 Republicans. Boebert indicated in a floor speech Wednesday that the former president had called some of McCarthy's detractors.

A photo taken by a Bloomberg News photographer also suggests Trump spoke with at least one Republican again Friday night as the race devolved into chaos after the 14th ballot. The image shows Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia holding out her cell phone with a phone call with "DT," likely a reference to Trump.

Greene posted the photo to her Twitter account, writing, "It was the perfect phone call."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Biggs and Crane vote "present," paving possible path for McCarthy victory

The House was quiet as members voted one by one. Biggs, a key GOP holdout, voted "present," paving a possible path to victory for McCarthy. He had voted for Jordan in the 14th round. "Present" votes lower the number that constitutes a majority.

Boebert again voted "present," as she did in the previous round. 

Cheers erupted from Republicans when GOP Rep.-elect Eli Crane, another key holdout, switched his vote to "present." He had voted for Biggs on the 14th ballot.

By Kathryn Watson
 

"One more time": House heads to 15th vote after stunning defeat for McCarthy in 14th round

"Everybody take your seats — let's do it one more time," McCarthy yelled to his conference before he was nominated by Rep. Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas, on the 15th ballot for speaker.

"The eyes of the world, the eyes of America are on this body right now," he said. "What America needs, what this body needs is a lot less talk and a lot more action."

Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota then began his speech nominating Jeffries stating, "I rise to say, 'wow.'"

Phillips then invited six Republicans to join with Democrats and elect Jeffries as House speaker. 

By Melissa Quinn
 

Republicans move to adjourn, then backtrack to vote against their own motion in order to hold 15th vote

With no deal with Gaetz in sight, Rep. Patrick McHenry moved to adjourn the House until noon on Monday. House Republicans appeared to secure enough votes to adjourn in a recorded vote. 

But then, a group of those Republicans rushed to the dais to change their vote so that their own motion would fail, allowing the House to hold yet another vote for speaker Friday night. 

The backtracking is expected to mean one thing — that at least one of the holdouts has changed his or her mind and will move to help McCarthy. 

"One more round. One more round," members chanted. 

By Melissa Quinn
 

"A speaker has not been elected," clerk declares after dramatic 14th round

The House clerk gaveled the chamber back to order and declared after the 14th round that "a speaker has not been elected."

According to the vote-counters, 432 votes were cast, with McCarthy receiving 216 of them, falling short in his bid to win the speaker's gavel.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Gaetz tanks McCarthy's chance to win in 14th round by voting "present"

It all came down to Rep. Matt Gaetz in the 14th round Friday night. McCarthy needed Gaetz to vote for him. And when Gaetz voted "present," he tanked McCarthy's chance to bring the speaker's election to an end. 

The vote prompted an escalation in tensions on the Republican side, and GOP Rep. Mike Rogers approached Gaetz and was pulled away.

McCarthy himself stalked up the aisle of the House floor to speak directly with Gaetz. The Florida Republican was seated next to Boebert and could be seen gesturing toward McCarthy and an aide. 

McCarthy then turned away, walked back down the aisle and returned to his seat, where his leadership team encircled him.

With the tensions on the House floor at a high, Rosendale walked up to Gaetz and shook his hand.

Rep. Ken Buck, who left Washington for Colorado for a non-emergency medical procedure, returned and voted for McCarthy.

Gosar cast his vote for McCarthy.

The vote ended with McCarthy garnering 216 votes to Jeffries' 212. Other Republicans received four votes, and two — Gaetz and Boebert — voted "present."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Boebert votes present, Biggs votes for Jordan and Crane for Biggs on 14th ballot

Biggs, who has opposed McCarthy on each prior ballot, continued his streak on the 14th ballot with a vote for Jordan, who was not formally nominated this go-around.

Boebert, though, voted "present," which lowers the total number of members and members-elect voting and votes needed for McCarthy to claim the gavel.  

Rep.-elect Eli Crane of Arizona, among the group of six remaining holdouts, voted for fellow Arizonan Biggs.

Gaetz and Gosar each did not vote when their names were called, while Good voted for Jordan.

Gaetz and Gosar entered the chamber shortly after their names were called. 

Rep.-elect Wesley Hunt, who flew back to Texas to be with his wife and newborn son and missed Friday's earlier votes, returned to Washington to vote for McCarthy, earning applause from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. 

Rosendale voted for Biggs.

By Melissa Quinn
 

GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales says he'll vote no on Republicans' proposed rules package

Ahead of the 14th round of voting, at least one Republican, Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, has announced his opposition to the package of rules that has been under negotiation between McCarthy and the faction of conservatives who opposed his bid for speaker in earlier rounds.

"I am a NO on the house rules package. Welcome to the 118th Congress," Gonzales tweeted

By Melissa Quinn
 

Republicans release text of rules package, capping negotiations

Republicans released their package of House rules for the 118th Congress before the House reconvened at 10 p.m. It puts into writing some of McCarthy's concessions to conservative detractors, chief among them lowering the threshold for the motion to vacate to one House member, which allows any single member to call for a vote to oust the speaker.

The package also establishes a House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic to "investigate, make finding, and provide legislative recommendations" on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and requires consideration of a resolution establishing a Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. 

Under the rules plan put forth by Republicans, bills must be released 72 hours before a vote on the House floor, and the minimum time for floor votes is reduced from five minutes to two minutes.

The rules package also changes the names of two committees: the Oversight and Reform Committee would become the Committee on Oversight and Accountability; and the Education and Labor Committee would change to the Education and the Workforce Committee.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Scalise says "a lot of progress has been made"

Rep. Steve Scalise says "a lot of progress has been made" in McCarthy's bid for House speaker 03:16

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise says talks continue with the remaining holdouts, but "a lot of progress has been made" as McCarthy continues to try to find enough votes to become House speaker. Scalise spoke with CBS News political correspondent Caitlin Huey-Burns on Capitol Hill after the 13th round of voting.

 

House adjourns until 10 p.m. Friday as McCarthy allies plan to meet with remaining holdouts

The House voted to adjourn until 10 p.m. Friday, after Republican Whip Steve Scalise thanked the clerk and her colleagues for their indefatigable work, and called for a motion to adjourn. 

The roll call vote was 220 to 212.

A top McCarthy ally told CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa that private meetings are being planned for the rest of the afternoon and evening with the remaining holdouts. The McCarthy ally said Republicans "have to close this, and it's not going to happen on the floor." 

The remaining Republicans voting against McCarthy are Reps. Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good and Matt Rosendale. 

"I'll have the votes," McCarthy told reporters at 3:29 p.m., as he walked from the House floor to his office. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

No one elected in 13th round but McCarthy picks up one more vote

McCarthy still fell short in the 13th round, but he managed to pick up one more Republican holdout — Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland. 

McCarthy received 214 votes to Jeffries' 212.

Six Republicans voted for Rep. Jim Jordan: Reps. Andy Biggs, Eli Crane,  Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good and Matt Rosendale.

"Washington and Congress are broken," Harris tweeted after the vote. "If the agreement we were able to finalize over the last few days is implemented, it will be the greatest change in how the House operates and becomes much more responsive to the American people in at least two generations."

GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise moved to adjourn, and the votes are being recorded.

By Kathryn Watson
 

House begins 13th vote

GOP Rep. James Comer rose to nominate McCarthy and tee up the 13th vote. Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar moved to nominate Jeffries. 

But no McCarthy detractors rose to nominate a GOP alternative to McCarthy, as they have done in the last dozen rounds of voting. 

Still, it's unclear how many votes the House will take today, as some "Never-Kevin" voters such as Gaetz and Boebert appear to be unmoved. 

McCarthy fell short in the 12th round but for first time received more votes than Jeffries after flipping more than a dozen Republicans in the first significant movement toward him during the speaker election. 

In the 12th round, out of 431 votes, McCarthy received 213; Jeffries received 211; Jordan received four; and Hern received three. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

These are the Republican holdouts who flipped to McCarthy

McCarthy predicted that he would flip some votes his way Friday. He didn't win enough to become speaker, but the 14 votes switched in his favor showed progress in a stalemate that has lasted over three days. 

Here are the Republicans who flipped to McCarthy: 

  1. Dan Bishop (North Carolina)
  2. Josh Brecheen (Oklahoma)
  3. Michael Cloud (Texas)
  4. Andrew Clyde (Georgia)
  5. Byron Donalds (Florida)
  6. Paul Gosar (Arizona)
  7. Anna Luna (Florida) 
  8. Mary Miller (Illinois) 
  9. Ralph Norman (South Carolina)
  10. Andy Ogles (Tennessee)
  11. Scott Perry (Pennsylvania)
  12. Chip Roy (Texas) 
  13. Keith Self (Texas) 
  14. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, who had voted present before, also voted for McCarthy. 

—By Kathryn Watson, Rebecca Kaplan 

 

Despite multiple vote switches, McCarthy appears to lack votes to become speaker in 12th round

Although multiple GOP holdouts flipped to McCarthy, the top House Republican still appears to have lost enough votes to fall short in the 12th round. As the vote nears its end, McCarthy still had at least seven GOP detractors. But 14 holdouts appeared to have changed their votes in his favor.

This is also the first round in which McCarthy has more votes than Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

By Kathryn Watson
 

Reps. Bishop, Brecheen become first Republicans to flip to McCarthy

GOP Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Josh Brecheen, of Oklahoma, became the first GOP holdouts to switch their votes from someone else to McCarthy, eliciting cheers and applause from pro-McCarthy Republicans. 

It remains to be seen whether McCarthy will flip enough holdouts to win on the 12th ballot.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Rep. Eli Crane had voted for McCarthy. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

House launches into 12th vote as McCarthy says more Republicans will vote for him today

The House teed up its 12th vote for speaker, with GOP Rep. Mike Garcia of California rising to nominate McCarthy, suggesting that McCarthy has earned the position. Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn rose to nominate Jeffries. 

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz stood to criticize Garcia's comment about McCarthy's candidacy, and to nominate an alternative GOP candidate, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan. 

"You only earn the position of speaker of the House if you can get the votes," Gaetz said. "Mr. McCarthy doesn't have the votes today. He will not have the votes tomorrow. And he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year. And so one must wonder, Madam Clerk, is this an exercise in vanity for someone who has done the math, taken the counts, and is putting this institution through something that absolutely is avoidable?" 

GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert rose to nominate another Republican alternate, Rep. Kevin Hern. 

As the House began its session, McCarthy told CBS News he has flipped some Republicans. 

"You'll see some people who have been voting against me voting for me," he told reporters. 

But it's unclear how many of them will support McCarthy, and it's not certain there will be enough to deliver the speaker's gavel to him. 

Rebecca Kaplan and Ellis Kim contributed to this post.

By Kathryn Watson
 

House gavels in for the fourth day of the speaker election

The House clerk gaveled the chamber into session shortly after noon Friday. 

GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik made a point of order that the House did not have a quorum. Without a quorum, the House must adjourn or wait until a quorum is present to hold a vote.

House rules define a quorum as 218 when there is a full membership of 435 House lawmakers. The clerk determined Friday that 275 members were present, which constitutes a quorum. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

GOP Rep. Ken Buck, who has supported McCarthy, will not be in House session Friday during the day

Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, missed the ninth round of voting for speaker Thursday because of a "non-emergency medical procedure" he had to undergo in Colorado, according to his office. He is expected miss any speaker votes during the day but plans to return to Washington Friday evening.

Buck has consistently voted for McCarthy but said earlier this week on CNN that he told McCarthy to either make a deal with the holdouts or else step aside for a different member, like House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. 

When members are absent or vote "present," they lower the threshold of votes necessary to win a majority.

—Zak Hudak and Rebecca Kaplan

 

No deal with McCarthy dissenters yet, sources say

McCarthy told House GOP members on a conference call Friday morning that there is no deal yet with the 20 Republican holdouts, but they are making good progress, according to two sources on the call. 

The House may be heading into session in under an hour without an agreement — and with a 12th round of voting ahead. 

By Rebecca Kaplan
 

McCarthy: "We're going to shock you"

McCarthy, entering the Capitol Friday morning, told CBS News, "We're going to shock you."

He predicted Republicans will make progress.

Republicans have a 10:15 a.m. conference call to present the framework of a deal with some of the GOP holdouts opposing McCarthy. 

—Robert Costa and Kathryn Watson

 

After meeting of GOP holdouts concludes, it's unclear whether McCarthy has won any of them over yet

A meeting of a several of the McCarthy GOP holdouts in Republican Whip Tom Emmer's office concluded late Thursday night, and it remains unclear whether McCarthy has won any of their votes yet. 

As members of the group departed, they were vague about whether any agreement had been reached and would not make any commitments. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, who has backed McCarthy but spent time in the meeting, was asked whether Republicans would have a speaker Friday. 

"I hope so, but we'll see," he responded. 

Rep. Scott Perry, a leading McCarthy opponent, said the group is still "evaluating" the earmarks part of the discussion. When he was asked if there's a chance the House would have a speaker Friday, he replied, "There's a chance that anything happens."

Rep. Mary Miller declined to divulge details from the meeting except that they ate Chipotle. 

By Zak Hudak
 

Freedom Caucus would have more power under framework being considered

According to several Republicans briefed on Republican talks, the framework under consideration includes rules changes, budget promises and committee guarantees. 

Talks are fluid, but the framework being discussed to win over some of the McCarthy critics is coming together. Its key characteristic is that House Freedom Caucus members would be central in the House, not on the outskirts of the GOP. 

If the deal does go through and McCarthy becomes speaker, the outcome could mean a House where McCarthy is speaker, but the House Freedom Caucus is at the table on every significant matter.

By Robert Costa
 

McCarthy: "I think we've got a little movement"

As McCarthy left the House chamber and headed to the speaker's suite, he expressed confidence in his prospects of becoming speaker, despite his failure in the 11 rounds of voting so far, but he declined to predict when the voting would go his way.

"I'm not putting any timeline on it," he told reporters. "I just think we've got some progress going on. We've got members talking. I think we've got a little movement, so we'll see."

He also says he's not concerned about setting the threshold for a motion to vacate the chair to a single member. This would allow any single member to call for a vote of no confidence in the speaker. It's a demand that was made by some of the holdouts and one he recently conceded, though he initially opposed it. 

"That's the way it's always been except for the last speaker," he said, referring to the change under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow only a majority of either party to make that motion. "I think I'm very fine with that."

He also promised that none of his detractors would lose committee assignments for opposing him.

Speaking broadly about the speakership fight, he said, "It's better that we go through this process right now so we can achieve the things we want to achieve for the American public ... So, if this takes a little longer and it doesn't meet your deadline, that's okay. Because it's not how you start; it's how you finish. And if we finish well, we'll be very successful."

By Ellis Kim
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