The US House of Representatives finally elected GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as speaker after 14 failed ballots, the longest the chamber has gone leaderless in a century.
Holding the 15th session of voting on Saturday, the 57-year-old Californian Senator won the post with 216 out of 428 possible votes after a contentious four days caused by republican infighting.
He needed support from more than half of the lawmakers who cast their ballots, but a group of 20 hardliner republicans were against McCarthy, citing a lack of trust in him over political issues with US President Joe Biden and the democratic-held senate.
Despite the senator's numerous concessions to win support from hardliners and other far-right Republicans over the course of the week, GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado still refused to support McCarthy outright. They, instead, joined four other Republicans in the final round by voting “present,” and helping McCarthy to win the position and succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
McCarthy secured the gavel only after agreeing to hard-liners' demands that any lawmaker could remove him at any time. That would greatly reduce his power when trying to pass legislation on important issues.
"Our system is built on checks and balances. It's time for us to be a check and provide some balance to the president's policies," McCarthy said in his inaugural speech, which laid out a wide range of priorities from cutting spending to immigration.
Republicans took control of the US House in the November elections. McCarthy's victory on the 15th ballot finally ended the deepest congressional dysfunction in more than 160 years, and also marked the end of Joe Biden's Democratic dominance in both houses of Congress for the first time.
Meanwhile, Biden has congratulated McCarthy on his election as House Speaker in a statement issued shortly after the final ballot, saying that he is ready to work with the Republicans.
“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,” he said in the presidential statement.
His congratulation came in the wake of his concerns about how long it was taking Republicans to elect a speaker.
“I just think it’s really embarrassing it’s taking so long,” Biden said Wednesday en route to Kentucky for an event with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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