Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the Chamber in the early hours of Saturday morning, a major victory for the California Republican that elevated him to a powerful position leading the GOP majority in the House and a result that followed days of painstaking negotiations and failed votes.
To secure the gavel, McCarthy and his allies sought to eliminate the opposition he faced from a bloc of hardline conservatives in what ended up being the longest race in 164 years.
Republicans can now turn their attention to their agenda after regaining control of the House. But the contentious, drawn-out battle for the presidency threatens to deepen the divide between conservatives and moderates. The struggle McCarthy faces to lock down votes could serve as a preview of the challenges he will face trying to unify his conference going forward.
The deal, which McCarthy has pledged to win over critics, also looks set to leave him with a weaker hand to play in his new position of power. However, McCarthy rejected this offer.
“I think at the end of the day we’re going to be more efficient, more efficient and that government is definitely going to work,” he said Friday.
McCarthy gets key support amid concessions: In a major turnaround, McCarthy and his allies successfully flipped more than a dozen GOP votes to his column Friday afternoon — the first sign of serious momentum in his bid for speaker after a string of failed votes over several days.
Here is a list of key concessions and promises McCarthy and his allies have made during the negotiations, based on CNN reports:
- Any member may request a motion to vacate the chairman’s seat. This is important because it would make it much easier than it currently is to trigger what is effectively a vote of no confidence in the speaker. Conservatives pushed hard for it, while moderates worried it would weaken McCarthy’s hand.
- A super PAC supporting McCarthy has agreed not to participate in open GOP primaries in safe seats.
- The House of Representatives will hold a vote on key conservative bills, including a balanced budget amendment, congressional term limits and border security.
- Efforts to raise the nation’s debt ceiling must be matched by spending cuts. This could become a major issue in the future when it comes time to raise the debt limit to avoid a catastrophic bankruptcy, as Democrats in the Senate and the White House are likely to resist requests to cut spending.
- Move 12 appropriations bills individually. Instead of passing separate bills to fund government operations, Congress often passes a huge spending package at the end of the year, known as an “omnibus,” which bundles everything into one bill. Conservatives oppose it, arguing it avoids oversight and allows lawmakers to stick with outside pet projects.
- More Freedom faction representation on committees, including the powerful House Rules Committee.
- Cap discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels, which would equate to lower levels for defense and domestic programs.
- Seventy-two hours to review bills before they come to the floor.
- Allow members to propose more amendments to the chamber.
- Create a commission of inquiry to examine the “weaponization” of the federal government.
- Reinstate the Holman Rule, which can be used to reduce government employee wages.
Read more about the vote here.
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