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Kevin McCarthy’s Election as US House Speaker Reveals Chaos within Party System

The US House of Representatives finally elected Kevin McCarthy on the 15th ballot after four tension-filled days, the longest the chamber has gone leaderless in over a century. He received 216 out of the possible 428 votes after days of Republican infighting. All 212 Democrats rallied behind their nominee, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York. 

However, McCarthy fell short the first three days due to a number of Republicans accusing him of being too open to compromise with President Biden and Democrats. One such representative, Matt Gaetz of Florida, has been particularly outward in his distrust of McCarthy, stating “We do not trust Mr. McCarthy with power, because we know who he will use it for. And we are concerned that it will not be for the American people.” 

Emotions were running high when McCarthy suffered his 14th straight ballot defeat Friday night. Rep Mike Rogers of Alabama charged at Rep Matt Gaetz while angrily shouting. Rogers had to eventually be restrained before he stormed off. President Joe Biden called on the House to “get their act together” noting how the turmoil is “not a good look.” 

McCarthy was ultimately able to secure his spot through his team, presenting a “framework” of House rules promises that would satisfy the group of hardliner Republicans. These conditions eventually prompted six House members to vote “present” allowing McCarthy to hold the majority. The framework included rules on taxes, debt limit as well as negotiations making it easier to oust the speaker. Previously, this procedure to remove the speaker,  known as “a motion to vacate the chair,” required five lawmakers to set it in motion. However, McCarthy in these conditions agreed to allow just one member to launch a vote, a choice that can haunt him later on. 

Former President Donald Trump took credit for McCarthy’s win, stating on social media, “I greatly helped Kevin McCarthy attain the position of Speaker of the House. Thank you, I did our country a big favor!” Reports indicate that Trump was in contact with various representatives of the House throughout the week. McCarthy, after winning stated “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning.”

The United States prides itself on its ‘successful’ and ‘straightforward’ two party system. However, within the past decade, there has been a rising divide between the Democratic and Republican parties. A study notes that compared to the decades before, Americans had increasingly negative feelings toward members of the other party compared to their own party. As the divide between both parties continues to rise, the turmoil that left the House without a speaker this past week is indicative of the polarization and disarray that exists even within each party.  

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  • Sayyeda Fatima

    Sayyeda Fatima is an American current affairs writer who focuses on analyzing domestic and broader global politics from lenses not projected by Western media.

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