WASHINGTON — Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House on Saturday’s historic 15th ballot after midnight, reeling from tensions within his own ranks and the floor boiling over after a chaotic week that saw the new GOP majority to govern. ability tested.

After four days of grueling balloting, McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to turn supporters, including the chair of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, leaving him somewhat shy of seizing the gavel for the new Congress .

As the House resumed for a late-night session, McCarthy was on the verge of victory in the 14th round, but fell one vote short.

Earlier, after McCarthy fell one vote short in a heavy 14th round of voting, tensions boiled over in a chaotic scene on the House floor.

Even after two prominent Republican holdouts voted “present”, McCarthy would need to lower the tally, it was not enough. He went to the back of the chamber to confront Rep. Matt Gaetz, seated with Rep. Lauren Boebert and other holdouts. Fingers were raised, words were exchanged and violence was apparently just averted.

At one point, Republican Mike Rogers of Alabama began charging toward Gaetz before another Republican, Richard Hudson, physically pulled him back.

“Stay civil!” someone shouted

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., (left) points to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during a confrontation after Gaetz voted “present” in the House chamber late Friday. Gaetz’s vote was among those that sent McCarthy to defeat on the 14th ballot for speaker. He finally won on the 15th ballot.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Representative Richard Hudson, RN.C., pulls back Representative Mike Rogers, R-Ala., during the 14th round of voting for speaker.  House on Friday, January 6, 2023.

Representative Richard Hudson, RN.C., pulls back Representative Mike Rogers, R-Ala., during the 14th round of voting for speaker. House on Friday.

Andrew Harnick / Associated Press

Republicans quickly moved to adjourn, but McCarthy then proceeded to change his vote to remain in session as aides chanted “One more time!”

Some Republican holdouts also attended and began voting, drawing down the tally needed to seize the gavel heading for a dramatic end to the fourth long day of a grueling impasse that has shown the strength and fragility of American democracy .

McCarthy told reporters earlier in the day that he believed “we will have the votes to end this once and for all.”

The surprise twist of the day came when McCarthy agreed to a number of demands from critics – including reinstating a long-standing House rule that required a single member to vote to remove him from office. will allow.

Despite securing the necessary votes, McCarthy emerged as a weak speaker, wielding few powers and constantly under threat of being booted by his opponents.

But he can also be encouraged to have survived one of the more brutal battles for the gavel in American history. Not since the time of the Civil War has a speaker’s vote been drawn into so many rounds of voting.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reacts after losing the 14th vote in the House chamber as the House meets for a fourth day to elect the speaker and convene the 118th Congress, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Washington.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reacts after losing the 14th vote in the House chamber as the House elects a speaker for a fourth day and convenes the 118th Congress in Washington on Friday.

Demonstrations speeding up the new Congress on January 6, 2021, against the backdrop of the second anniversary of the attack on the Capitol that shook the nation, when a crowd of supporters of then-President Donald Trump tried to stop Congress from certifying the Republican Of. 2020 election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.

At a Capitol event on Friday, some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, observed a moment of silence and praised the officers who helped protect Congress that day. And at the White House, Biden presented medals to officers and others who fought the attackers.

He said, ‘America is a country of laws, not anarchy.

In the afternoon’s speaker polling, many Republicans tired of the spectacle were temporarily moved when one of McCarthy’s most ardent challengers raised his voice against the GOP leader.

A framework for a deal with conservative holdouts blocking McCarthy’s elevation emerged after three frustrating days and 11 failed votes in an inter-party standoff in modern times.

An excited McCarthy told reporters upon arriving at the Capitol, “We are going to make progress. We will surprise you.

A key former holdout, Republican Scott Perry, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, a leader of Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election, tweeted after his switched vote for McCarthy: “We are at a turning point.” are on.”

Another Republican holdout, Byron Donalds of Florida, who had been repeatedly named as an alternate candidate for speaker, also made the switch Friday, voting for McCarthy.

Trump may have played a role in influencing the holdouts. Donalds said he spoke to the former president the day before, urging Republicans to end their public spat.

as rape. Mike Garcia nominated McCarthy for Friday, he also thanked the US Capitol Police, who were given a standing ovation on January 6 for protecting lawmakers and the legislative seat of democracy.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with members of Congress and family of fallen officers, speaks during a ceremony Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, to mark the second anniversary of a violent uprising by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with members of Congress and families of fallen officers, speaks during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the violent insurrection by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who tried to stop the storming of the Capitol was attacked. Certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election.


But nominating Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat Jim Clyburn recalled the horrors of the day and told his aides: “The eyes of the country are on us today,” he said.

Without a speaker, the chamber is unable to swear in members and begin its 2023-24 session, indicating further difficulty for the new Republican majority as it tries to govern.

The election of a speaker is usually an easy, joyous task for a party that has just won a majority. But not this time: Nearly 200 Republicans have been shunned by 20 far-right allies who said McCarthy isn’t conservative enough.

The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to the difficulties faced by Republicans now in control of the House, similar to the way some previous Republican speakers, including John Boehner, had trouble leading a rebellious right wing. Result: government shutdown, impasse, and Boehner’s premature retirement when conservatives threatened to oust him.

The compromise McCarthy presented to holdouts from the Freedom Caucus and others centered around rule changes they had been demanding for months. Those changes would reduce the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence in drafting and passing legislation.

At the core of the emerging deal is the reinstatement of a House rule that would allow a single legislator to “vacate the chair” to essentially vote to oust the speaker. McCarthy opposed rolling back the long-standing rule, which was overturned by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because it was placed over the head of Boehner, the previous Republican speaker. But it seems that McCarthy had no other choice.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walks into the House chamber, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, to attend the 14th vote for Speaker of the House.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walks into the House chamber, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, to attend the 14th vote for Speaker of the House. McCarthy was shocked and angry after losing that vote, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., on the House floor. were facing. After nearly voting to adjourn, the House remained in session for a 15th vote, which McCarthy ultimately won.

Jacqueline Martin/Associated Press

Other wins for the holdouts are more obscure and include provisions in the proposed deal to expand the number of seats available on the House Rules Committee, mandating 72 hours for bills to be posted before votes, and seeking a constitutional amendment. Enforce federal limits on the number of terms a person can serve in the House and Senate.

What began as a political novelty – the first time since 1923 that no candidate had won the gavel on the first vote – deepened into a bitter Republican Party feud and potential crisis.

Prior to Friday’s ballots, Democratic leader Jefferies of New York had received the most votes on each ballot, but fell short of a majority. McCarthy advanced to second on no bases.

The longest battle for the gavel began in late 1855 and lasted two months with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery during the Civil War.

AP writers Marie Claire Jalonic and Kevin Freking and video journalists Nathan Elgren and Mike Pesoli contributed to this report.

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