by Nicholas Ballasy
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy captured the House speakership in dramatic fashion early Saturday, winning enough votes on a historic 15th ballot that saw 20 renegade Republicans changing their votes under enormous pressure after winning significant concessions about how Congress will operate going forward.
The final vote was 216-212-6.
The weeklong drama captured on national television exposed deep divisions within the Republican caucus that are certain to resurface throughout the 118th Congress and ended with all the drama of Hollywood movie.
McCarthy won about an hour after he lost on a 14th ballot by a single vote when some of his renegade colleagues voted differently than expected.
The loss triggered moments of tension as Rep. Mike Rogers had to be restrained when he confronted holdout Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and a flustered McCarthy dashed into the seats.
Republicans even began the process of adjourning for the night, exhausted and expecting more marathon negotiations ahead. But then suddenly Gaetz came down to McCarthy and suggested there was a deal for the holdouts to vote present, reducing the number required for a win.
At that moment, many Republicans, who voted to adjourn rushed down to the clerks and change their votes to keep the session open so the historic 15th ballot could take place shortly after midnight.
The deal followed a week of marathon negotiations, that at times involved former President Donald Trump, and spewed vitriol on television, and in private meetings, as Republicans tried to work out differences over the rules governing how votes will take place over the next two years.
Most of the original 20 holdouts said their primary concern was to change the way Congress operates so that they could begin to reduce the massive spending that has grown the national debt to nearly $32 trillion. The stalemate also kept members from being sworn in and constituents from having a lawful representative to answer their concerns or calls.
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Nicholas Ballasy has been breaking news for more than a decade in the nation’s capital and questioning political leaders about the most pressing issues facing the nation.
Photo “Kevin McCarthy” by Kevin McCarthy.