“I hope one thing is clear after this week,” McCarthy wrote in a statement after assuming office. “ I will never give up. And I will never give up for you, the American people.”
McCarthy’s journey to take up the gavel was anything but easy or certain in the four long days of intense negotiations and debate with as many as twenty lawmakers, including three from Texas.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) emerged as a leader in the reform negotiations, reiterating concerns he and other lawmakers had that prompted the standoff. During the deadlock, he and others pined for rules reforms intended to return power to the members, help Republicans deliver on key legislative issues, and provide oversight of the executive branch, namely the Biden administration.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10), chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, declared victory on the holdout and wrote, “The juice was worth the squeeze, we fought for and secured agreement on major reforms ending the unacceptable status quo in Washington.”
He also announced the agreed-to list of reforms, which includes:
- A plan to secure the southern border;
- A budget that stops debt ceiling increases and holds the Senate accountable;
- Ending all COVID mandate-relating funding;
- Establishing a select committee to investigate the weaponization of federal agencies against Americans;
- Giving lawmakers at least 72 hours to read a bill;
- Requiring bills to focus on a single subject matter;
- Restoring the motion to vacate the chair by any single member.
Two other Texas Republicans — Reps. Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) and Keith Self (R-TX-03) — also helped force an agreement to the reforms. They, like Roy, voted against McCarthy on the first several days of the standoff, but ultimately backed McCarthy on Friday as agreements were made.
“The reforms we’ve negotiated won’t fix everything wrong with Washington,” Rep. Cloud wrote in a statement after the vote. “However, it will be a massive change in how the House operates and enables Members of Congress to truly represent their constituents.”
Finally throwing his support to McCarthy for the rules changes that had been agreed to, Self stated, “My vote today was to show support for significant rules changes to transform the House from being dysfunctional to functional.”
“I believe we are on the precipice of transferring significant power from leadership to individual members and the American people.”
Self also called the few lawmakers who continued to hold out “obstructionists” and questioned whether their position was motivated by self-interest or a sincere desire to “restore the Republic.”
The evening didn’t end without excitement, however.
While many assumed enough votes had been secured to elect McCarthy on the 14th roll call vote, McCarthy lost by a single vote when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01), who previously nominated former President Trump for the speakership, voted “present.”
Frustration boiled over for some; Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-03) was restrained by another lawmaker after he began to lunge toward Gaetz in anger over his abstention.
Voting down a subsequent motion to adjourn, lawmakers kicked off a 15th and final vote after Gaetz and McCarthy could be seen reaching an agreement on the House floor.
With six lawmakers voting present, McCarthy was finally elected Speaker of the House to loud applause from the Republican caucus. He won with 216 votes; the Democratic nominee, Hakeem Jeffries, took 212 as he had for 14 previous rounds.
After lawmakers were administered the oath of office, the business of the 118th session of Congress will proceed when the House reconvenes on Monday.
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Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.