Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House GOP, was beaming on the House floor as the chamber started yet another vote for speaker. The California Republican had picked up 14 fresh votes on the previous round, reviving his shaky campaign for the speaker’s gavel.
McCarthy entered the 15th round of voting in four days and won 216 votes out of the 431 total members voting on Friday night. Although there were Republican holdouts, McCarthy still edged out as the victor.
Rep. James Comer of Oklahoma, a Republican who will preside over the House Oversight Committee in the 118th Congress, was the one who first proposed McCarthy for the position.
McCarthy appeased several Republicans who had opposed becoming his speaker for four days of voting with a package of compromises. McCarthy’s supporters applauded the dissidents’ votes for him in the chamber after McCarthy promised to demonstrate “improvement” before the vote on Friday.
A few Republicans are warning that McCarthy should not be allowed to tempt them with committee leadership positions as he tried to eliminate the last few Republicans who still oppose him. The moderate Republican from Nebraska, Don Bacon, responded, “Yeah, that’s not going to fly…The rest of us are working our butts off. And we’re a merit-based conference … It goes against our ethics.”
On Fox News Thursday, Bacon made headlines by revealing that McCarthy was having discussions on changing up committee ratios. Current committee sizes range from a low of 6 to a high of 29. Party leaders, which would be McCarthy, also determine the ratio of majority to minority members on each committee, and these ratios tend to more closely approximate each party’s overall strength in the Chamber than is the case in the House. However, Bacon suggested that McCarthy would open up the ratio to negotiation to the Democrats, to gain some of their votes, if the GOP holdouts didn’t end up flipping. To some, this would be seen as bipartisan. To others, it makes the GOP look weak and divided.
Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican who switched to McCarthy in the 13th round of voting, is at least one of the holdouts who has indicated an interest in the gavel of the Appropriations Subcommittee.
And just hours ago, as McCarthy clinched the nomination and will be the speaker of the 118th Congress, it remains to be seen who will be given what committee gavels, and what backroom trading went into securing the seat for McCarthy.