Kevin McCarthy elected US House speaker after historic deadlock

07 Jan 2023 09:41pm
Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy
WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives elected Congressman Kevin McCarthy as speaker early Saturday morning after a historic deadlock that kept the lower chamber from being fully functional days after the new Congress convened.

McCarthy, a California Republican, clinched enough votes to become House speaker in the 15th round of voting -- the longest contest in 164 years -- after a bitter fight with a group of hardline conservatives and 14 failed ballots in a row, Xinhua reported.

It was the first time a House speaker -- who maintains order, manages its proceedings, and governs the administration of its business on the lower chamber's floor -- had not been elected on the first ballot in 100 years.

US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, said earlier this week that it is "embarrassing for the country" not to have a fully functional Congress, the legislature of the federal government.

All House Democrats voted for Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, making him the minority leader and the first African American lawmaker to run a party in either chamber of the US Congress.

To flip Republican holdouts, McCarthy reportedly made a series of concessions, including a lower threshold to force a vote on ousting the House speaker and a floor vote on a border security bill. He also promised that efforts to raise the nation's debt ceiling must be paired with spending cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also a New York Democrat, responded to the alleged concessions after McCarthy's election, saying the proposals "will cause a government shutdown or a default with devastating consequences to our country".

"Speaker Kevin McCarthy's dream job could turn into a nightmare for the American people," Schumer said. "To get the votes, he surrendered to demands of a fringe element of the Republican party."

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