Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives on Saturday morning after a long crisis and after making many concessions to right-wing extremists.
The 57-year-old Californian’s 216-212 victory on the 15th ballot ended the worst dysfunction in Congress in more than 160 years, while illustrating the difficulties the new ‘speaker’ will face in carrying a narrow majority and split over the next two more years.
Kevin McCarthy won with the votes of less than half of the members of the House of Representatives, only because six members of his own party abstained – not supporting his candidacy, but also not voting for another candidate.
This election marks the end of President Joe Biden’s Democratic hold in both houses of Congress. “Our system is built on checks and balances. It’s time we pulled and rebalanced the president’s policies.”, McCarthy said in his post-election speech, laying out priorities such as cutting immigration spending. He was only able to win after accepting a demand from the extremes that any lawmaker could seek his removal, which would drastically reduce his power.
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Democratic President Joe Biden praised Kevin McCarthy and encouraged him to do so “governing responsibly and in the interest of Americans”. “I’m willing to work with Republicans whenever possible, and voters have made it clear they expect Republicans to be willing to work with me as well.” This was written by the tenant in the White House in a statement.
McCarthy’s victory comes two years after a mob of former Republican President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to prevent the certification of the results of the presidential election won by Joe Biden.