A big triumph for the California Republican, elevating him to a strong position in charge of the GOP majority in the chamber, led to the election of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House in the wee hours of Saturday morning. This decision came after days of laborious talks and unsuccessful votes.
McCarthy had to overcome resistance from a group of staunch conservatives in what turned out to be the longest campaign in 164 years to win the gavel. McCarthy and his allies appeased opponents by making several concessions to conservatives, which infuriated moderates who feared the compromises may make it more difficult for the new GOP majority to govern successfully.
Despite possessing a majority in the chamber, it took Mr McCarthy 15 rounds of voting to obtain the position.
It followed a spectacular campaign of pressure that was conducted in real-time on the House floor, during which party dissident Matt Gaetz was encouraged to support Mr McCarthy.
The congressman from Florida was one of six sceptics who caved late on Friday.
Before that, Mr Gaetz and Rep. Mike Rogers, a backer of Mr McCarthy, had nearly exchanged blows during heated moments in the chamber. As he yelled and pointed his finger at Mr Gaetz, the congressman from Alabama had to be physically restrained by his fellow lawmakers.
The Speaker controls legislative action and establishes the House’s agenda. After the US vice president, the position is second in line for the presidency.
Following his confirmation, Mr McCarthy expressed the following on Twitter: “I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up. And I will never give up on you, the American people.”
According to Mr McCarthy, former President Trump assisted him in winning the decisive votes. He told reporters, “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence.”