Kevin McCarthy elected Republican U.S. House speaker, but at a cost
WASHINGTON — Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives early on Saturday, after making extensive concessions to a group of right-wing hardliners that raised questions about the party’s ability to govern.
The 57-year-old Californian suffered one final humiliation when Representative Matt Gaetz withheld his vote on the 14th ballot as midnight approached, prompting a scuffle in which fellow Republican Mike Rogers had to be physically pulled away.
McCarthy’s victory in the 15th ballot brought an end to the deepest congressional dysfunction in over 160 years. But it sharply illustrated the difficulties that he will face in leading a narrow and deeply polarized majority.
He won at last on a margin of 216-212. He was able to be elected with the votes of fewer than half the House members only because six in his own party withheld their votes – not backing McCarthy as leader, but also not voting for another contender.
“I’m glad that it’s over,” McCarthy told reporters shortly after the vote.
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