Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy has finally notched enough votes to become speaker. This, after four days of intense and frustrating balloting that kept the 118th Congress from swearing in members and undertaking any new business.
But it took a loss by a razor-thin margin in a late-night Round 14, a heated exchange with one of his sternest opponents, and a near-adjournment of the House till Monday to break a logjam unseen since before the Civil War.
The final tally that put him over the top: 216 for McCarthy, 212 for Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries and and 6 simply “present.”
As might have been predicted, no Dems voted for McCarthy, and no Republicans for Jeffries.
A larger vote of present lowered the threshold required for McCarthy to win a majority of those voting for a candidate, making his win easier than in the preceding round.
But first …
All day Friday, McCarthy had been inching ever closer to taking up the gavel as he won over multiple diehard conservative critics and resistors. McCarthy, who flipped 15 colleagues to supporters in dramatic votes on Friday afternoon, returned to the chamber at 10 p.m. ET with hopes high that he’d woo enough additional hardliners to put him over the top.