Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy succeeded early Saturday in his push to become his chamber’s next speaker, claiming the job after first falling short in well over a dozen rounds of voting.
McCarthy could handle only a few GOP defections given his party’s narrow majority in the House of Representatives, but in ballots this week he repeatedly saw around 20 Republicans vote against him before finally prevailing.
On Friday, McCarthy began to pick up some support from those Republican holdouts in a 12th round of voting, though it wasn’t sufficient to give him the job, so 13th and 14th ballots were held, followed by the 15th and final ballot.
See: House moves to 15th speaker ballot after McCarthy falls one vote short in 14th
Ahead of Friday’s voting, there were signs of a deal that could help McCarthy take the gavel. One of McCarthy’s critics, GOP Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, tweeted that he had switched to supporting the top Republican due to that deal.
“The framework for an agreement is in place, so in a good-faith effort, I voted to restore the People’s House by voting for @gopleader McCarthy,” Perry said.
See: Kevin McCarthy’s speaker deal to win over holdouts would ‘neuter’ him, and could mean more government shutdowns
There hadn’t been a need for multiple votes for a speaker election since 1923, and it’s the most ballots required since1860, just before the Civil War, when 44 ballots were needed.
Related: Think the McCarthy House speaker vote is wild? Meet Frederick Huntington Gillett and Nathaniel P. Banks.
Analysts have warned that the tensions over what’s typically a ceremonial election could signal that the GOP-run House will be dysfunctional throughout 2023 and 2024.
“In our view, the challenge to McCarthy underscores the difficulty that a narrow and fractured GOP majority will have in working with Democrats in the Senate on key issues such as the debt limit, government funding, and Ukraine in 2023,” said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets, in a research note ahead of McCarthy’s election.
Related: Fight over House speaker job offers ‘ominous portent of how the U.S. debt-ceiling fight will go,’ analyst says
Republicans have taken control of the House thanks to wins in November’s midterm elections, returning to power in that chamber after four years in the minority.
But the GOP’s hopes for a strong red wave two years into President Joe Biden’s term were dashed, as the party has claimed just a small House majority and Democrats have maintained their grip on the Senate.
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