McCarthy is elected – dramatic scenes took place beforehand

Kevin McCarthy finally nailed it.Bild: keystone

07.01.2023, 06:4507.01.2023, 09:35

After a relentless intra-party power struggle, Republican Kevin McCarthy is the new chairman of the US House of Representatives. The 57-year-old was elected to the powerful post in the 15th ballot on Saturday night (local time) after various party colleagues had refused to support him in the previous rounds and he had therefore repeatedly missed the necessary majority.

McCarthy is the new number three in the state ranking after the US president and his vice president and follows Democrat Nancy Pelosi in the powerful office. The party’s internal rebellion against McCarthy paralyzed the House of Representatives for days and plunged it into chaos.

After the parliamentary elections in November, Congress met for the first time on Tuesday in a new constellation. The Republicans took control of the House of Representatives – in the Senate, President Joe Biden’s Democrats still have a narrow majority. Actually, the House of Representatives should have chosen a new chairman on Tuesday. The inner-party revolt against McCarthy, however, dramatically lengthened the process.

Usually, the election to the chair of the Chamber of Congress is a formality. But several party colleagues from the faction’s right-wing wing rebelled against McCarthy and refused to support him. Given the narrow majority of Republicans in the chamber, McCarthy did not manage to get enough votes in various ballots.

Humiliation for Republicans

It was a humiliation of historic proportions for the Republican: not since the 19th century has it taken the members of the House of Representatives as many attempts to choose a new leader as this time. The last time there were more ballots was only in 1859/1860. At that time, Republican William Pennington was only elected chairman of the Chamber of Congress in the 44th ballot. The process took several weeks at the time. In McCarthy’s case, the voting marathon dragged on for several days.

Even the tough resistance of some party colleagues in the weeks before the election was a public exposure for him. Despite the successful election, McCarthy went into office weakened and had to face major difficulties in organizing majorities in the Congress Chamber in the years to come. In addition, McCarthy has promised his opponents within the party more power to remove a chairman – i.e. to remove him from office if in doubt.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., gestures towards the newly installed nameplate at his office after he was sworn in as speaker of the 118th Congress in Washington, early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. ...

Is “1000 percent” sure that he can hold his post: Kevin McCarthy.Bild: keystone

When asked how sure he was that he could stay in office, McCarthy said after winning the election: “1000 percent.” He also tried to downplay internal divisions within his faction. A way has been found to work together, he said, anticipating potential struggles of this type in future polls.

McCarthy had been fighting opposition within his own ranks for weeks, offering his opponents all sorts of concessions to appease them and win them over to his side. But they didn’t let the showdown in the plenum take them away. The 57-year-old had to make further concessions to unify his opponents. Only then could he turn the tide and change the minds of enough party colleagues.

Dramatic Scenes

During the session on Saturday night, dramatic and chaotic scenes took place in the plenary hall: heated arguments and desperate last-minute negotiations. In the end, 216 Republicans voted for McCarthy, six party colleagues abstained. However, McCarthy’s opponents did not vote for alternative candidates from their own ranks in the last round.

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Video: watson

The Republican faction in the House of Representatives, like the party as a whole, is torn between right-wing supporters of ex-President Donald Trump and more moderate party members. Faced with a narrow majority, McCarthy had to unite the various wings and even recruit members from the fringes of his faction to become leader. (sda/dpa)

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