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Who Is Kevin McCarthy? The 55th US Speaker Who Made History For All The Wrong Reasons

Amid the heated exchanges in the lower chamber of the United States, Republican firebrand Kevin McCarthy has finally been elected as the next US Speaker.

Kevin McCarthy

Image: AP

After 15 rounds of voting, the US House of Representatives has finally found its 55th speaker of the House. Amid the heated exchanges, which even led to a shouting match in the lower chamber of the United States, Republican firebrand Kevin McCarthy has finally been elected as the next US Speaker. Despite his party holding a thin majority in the US House of Representatives, the GOP leader lost 14 rounds of ballot votes, before his ambition to become the US Speaker finally became a reality.  

The 118th US Congress managed to give the Americans, the longest speaker contest in 164 years. The political slugfest that had been going on since Tuesday, came to an end after Party rebel Matt Gaetz finally urged the Republican rebel group to vote for McCarthy. Gaetz was part of a 20 Republican crew, who had been holding out their valuable votes which were preventing McCarthy to win 218 votes to assume the speaker's office. The new speaker has been a very controversial figure from the get-go. After the former US Speaker, the Democratic powerhouse Nancy Pelosi stepped down from the position, McCarthy impulsively moved to Pelosi’s old office. However, the Republican leader had to face humiliating defeats in 15 ballots, before he could put his nameplate on that office. Here’s a deep dive into the life of the 55th speaker of the US House of Representatives. 

Who Is Kevin McCarthy? 

The 57-year-old California congressman came to mainstream political scenes after he served as the chief deputy whip and served as the majority whip in 2006. It was the year 2014 when he was elected as the Republican leader of the house. Since then the Republican firecracker has been eying the gavel of the speaker of the House. His chances of holding the office rose in 2015, however, McCarthy failed to win over the conservative votes to assume the office.

After the GOP gained a slim majority in the US House of Representatives following the 2022 US midterms elections, McCarthy was seen as the possible successor of Nancy Pelosi. However, things changed on Tuesday when around 20 Republicans decided to hold a mutiny against MacCarthy and started giving out names of different candidates. Even though McCarthy won a stamp of approval from former US President Donald Trump, he failed to gain support from several far-right Republicans who took the name of the former President before they gave his name. 

Why did it take so long? 

Despite the thin Republican majority in the House, the California congressman had to wait for 15 rounds of voting, before he could assume the office. One of the main reasons for this delay was the reluctance from a group of 20 far-right Republicans, who decided to hold the US House hostage since the House can not legislate without a speaker. The US media called the group, “Never Kevin” as they kept opposing the election of McCarthy in 14 ballots. According to the BBC, at least 19 of the 20 representatives who were holding out their votes belonged to the House Freedom Caucus. The group emerged from the Tea Party movement in the late 2000s and has hindered McCarthy’s bid for the speakership in 2015 as well. 

The group with new faces believed that McCarthy is "power-hungry" and will do little to change the status quo. Names of Representatives like Byron Donalds, Andy Biggs, and Jim Jordan started floating around as the caucus started pitching different alternatives. According to the BBC, the holdouts demanded promises from McCarthy to push bills that support term limits and border security after holding out their votes for four days. 

What lies ahead? 

Now that McCarthy has managed to make his dream a reality after a dayslong stalemate, the US Lower Chamber can finally get back to business. The members of the House, who were considered as member-elect can now finally be sworn in to take their seats in the House of Representatives. According to CNN, as the House reconvenes on Monday, the 118th Congress will pass a new set of House rules. The House will now start working on new legislation and form new committees as Kevin McCarthy finally steps in. 

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