‘I Never Give Up’: McCarthy Elected Speaker After 5 Days, 15 Ballots

Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives early Saturday morning on the 15th ballot after five days of deadlock.


Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives early Saturday morning on the 15th ballot after offering enough concessions to Republican holdouts to end five days of deadlock that paralyzed the People’s House.

  • The final six holdouts finally relented after Rep. Matt Gaetz dramatically scuttled the 14th ballot despite a personal lobbying campaign on the House floor from McCarthy himself. Rep. Mike Rogers had to be physically restrained by other members after confronting Gaetz on the floor.
  • McCarthy began the day with a show of strength by flipping 14 of his detractors on the 12th and 13th ballots. Leadership expected to win on the 14th ballot after making even more concessions and requested Reps. Ken Buck and Wesley Hunt return to the Capitol after missing earlier votes.
  • Buck underwent a medical procedure while Hunt returned to Texas to attend to his premature newborn son and hospitalized wife. McCarthy’s 14th ballot defeat came as a shock to many in the chamber.
  • Within an hour of losing the 14th ballot by one vote, McCarthy and his top supporters convinced his most steadfast opponents – including Reps. Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs and Matt Rosendale – to vote “present” on the final ballot, lowering his threshold of victory to 216 votes.
  • McCarthy’s path to the speakership was fraught with landmines, and several McCarthy allies credited the influence of Rep. Jim Jordan and former President Donald Trump in helping sway the members staunchly opposed to the California Republican.
  • After McCarthy secured the speakership on the 15th ballot, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries addressed the chamber before handing over the gavel to the new speaker. McCarthy was sworn in by Rep. Hal Rogers, the Dean of the House, and delivered his own speech before swearing in the 118th Congress in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
  • McCarthy cracked jokes throughout his first speech as Speaker. At one point he quipped to Jeffries, “Hakeem, I got to warn you, two years ago I got 100 percent of the vote from my conference.” He also pledged that the legislative debates would be “passionate. They will never be personal.”
  • The first vote of the 118th Congress is finally over. Buckle up for a raucous two years.

reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times warned the deadlock over the speakership could lead to a standoff with the risk of destabilizing the U.S. financial system when the House will need to raise the debt limit later this year.
  • CNN reported on some of the key concessions McCarthy made to flip his detractor’s votes. He agreed to keep the leadership-aligned super PAC out of open primaries in safe red seats, to hold votes on key conservative priorities, and to pair any increase in the debt ceiling with spending cuts.
  • The key turning point for McCarthy’s fortunes came on Thursday night when leadership presented the holdouts with a “framework” of rules changes, according to NBC News. One key concession was three seats on the Rules Committee, the powerful body that decides which measures will make it to the floor of the House.



  • National Review dubbed McCarthy the “speaker in name only.” McCarthy is now “in an incredibly weak position, chastened by the protracted battle to gain power” – but the weakening of the speaker’s office may not be all bad for conservatives in the long run.
  • Fox News highlighted one line from McCarthy’s speech that was met with “thunderous applause” from Republicans and dead silence from Democrats. “My friends – this chamber is now fully open for all Americans,” the new Speaker said. He promised to reopen the Capitol to the public after House Democrats kept it inaccessible to the public after the Jan. 6 riots.
  • The Washington Examiner broke down the winners and losers of the speaker deadlock. The winners? House Democrats, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, and the media. The losers? The House Freedom Caucus, McCarthy, Trump, and the Congress.


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© Dominic Moore, 2023

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