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Republican Kevin McCarthy becomes US House speaker in 15th ballot

Republican Kevin McCarthy was on Saturday elected speaker of the US House of Representatives on a historic post-midnight 15th ballot. McCarthy won on a margin of 216-212.

Republican Kevin McCarthy becomes US House speaker in 15th ballot gcw
First Published Jan 7, 2023, 12:58 PM IST

Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, was chosen as the next speaker of the US House of Representatives on Saturday after a record post-midnight 15th ballot. McCarthy triumphed with a score of 216-212. Six members of his own party withheld their votes, not supporting McCarthy as leader but also not voting for another candidate, which allowed him to win with the support of less than half of the House members.

McCarthy was unable to get a majority on repeated occasions, which caused the Republicans, who now possess a razor-thin majority, to become embroiled in infighting. In fact, the contentious 2023 race saw more vote rounds than any speaker election since the Civil War.

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Six conservatives who had previously opposed McCarthy's candidature changed their votes in the 15th round, giving McCarthy the victory. 14 other Republican holdouts then switched their support to McCarthy.

In his first speech as House speaker, Kevin McCarthy told his colleagues, "Now the hard work begins." McCarthy stated, "As speaker of the House, my primary duty is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. To our nation is my obligation, and it is our responsibility."

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US President Joe Biden praised McCarthy on his victory and expressed his eagerness to work with the Republican Party. He stated, "We need to govern in a way that puts the needs of the American people above everything else. The American people demand that from their leaders."

The historic ballot came two years to the day after the January 6 Capitol insurrection in 2021.

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