Republicans in the United States House of Representatives have finally chosen a leader after a historic meltdown ended with so-called ultraconservatives bending to the will of the GOP majority.
Or … was it the other way around?
It’s not immediately clear who caved to whom, but either way – a historic five-day standoff which exposed deep divisions within the GOP ended shortly after midnight on Saturday morning when Kevin McCarthy of California was finally elected speaker of the House.
McCarthy won the gavel at 12:34 a.m. EST on his fifteenth attempt (click here for the decisive roll call vote). His victory came just hours after several GOP holdouts – including South Carolina congressman Ralph Norman – flipped their votes in his favor on Friday afternoon.
Norman previously said he would sooner vote for “Mickey Mouse” for speaker – referring to McCarthy as a politician “tied to the Washington swamp.”
What made him change his mind? In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, Norman cited “concrete steps (McCarthy) will take to fix our budgeting and appropriations process.”
“While this has not been an easy process, I’m confident this agreement will place us on an excellent trajectory,” Norman said.
After struggling to eclipse the 200-vote threshold for most of the week, McCarthy won 216 Republican votes on the final tally early Saturday – just enough to propel him to victory. Six Republicans – 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 on the final tally.
“Republicans” hold 222 seats following the 2022 elections – in which an expected “red wave” failed to materialize.
“I’m still holding the line,” Biggs said in a message to his constituents late Friday. “If we can’t make a change when there is an opportunity to do it, then when can we? I’m not going to participate in the continuation of the Uniparty.”
Still, these representatives’ decisions to vote present – as opposed to casting ballots for a more conservative alternative – gave McCarthy the razor-thin advantage he needed.
During the penultimate vote – which saw McCarthy fall just shy of the prize – a fight nearly erupted on the floor of the House between Gaetz and congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama, a staunch McCarthy supporter.
Rogers had to be physically restrained by congressman Richard Hudson of North Carolina as he lunged at Gaetz.
“I hope one thing is clear after this week,” McCarthy said. “I will never give up. And I will never give up for you, the American people.”
“I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence,” McCarthy told reporters. “He was with me from the beginning … he would call me and he would call others.”
Indeed, Trump reportedly called Gaetz and Biggs in the moments leading up to the decisive vote. According to Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, the former president made a “crucially timed call” to Gaetz prior to the decisive vote. Haberman also reported that congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia – a McCarthy backer and Trump loyalist – was “holding up her cellphone, with ‘DT’ on the other end” in an attempt to sway the last few holdouts.
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So … can McCarthy deliver on his promises to conservative members?
As I noted in this week’s editions of our ‘Week in Review,’ the outcome of this dramatic, historic leadership battle is unlikely to make much of a dent in the looming fiscal armageddon staring down the American Republic.
America is staring down some scary interest payments on its ballooning national debt – which currently stands at a whopping $31.2 trillion. According to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), these debt payments – i.e. the cost of government’s borrowing – are projected to climb from $442 billion to $1.2 trillion per year over the coming decade.
And that was before the secretive Federal Reserve bank jacked interest rates by 4 percent over the last nine months.
And again … that’s just the interest due on the ongoing deficit spending.
No matter what party you support – or what faction of that party you belong to – such fiscal irresponsibility is simply not sustainable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has an incredible hat collection including that Tampa Bay Rays sunburst batting practice lid.
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