McCarthy praises vocal critic Matt Gaetz for helping secure speaker victory
New House Speaker-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) praised Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and former President Donald Trump for helping him secure the speaker’s gavel in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Gaetz, whose “present” vote helped lower the vote threshold to give McCarthy the presidency, helped get his other five detractors to vote “present” during the speaker’s final vote instead of voting for someone else, McCarthy said.
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“It turned into a draw and…Matt really wanted everyone to be there. Through all of this, people’s emotions rise and fall. By the end of the night, Matt had everyone there to the point that no one voted against it. In fact, it helped unite,” said the speaker.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., right, after Gaetz voted “present” on the House floor as the House meets for the fourth day to choose a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Friday, January 6, 2023.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Gaetz said the switch from voting for another candidate to voting “in-place” came because he ran out of things to ask McCarthy on House rules legislation expected to be voted on Monday. McCarthy made concessions to the group of 20 Republican lawmakers who initially opposed him in order to get the votes needed to become president. However, some details about what final concessions were made have not been released.
The influence of the former president must also be taken into account, McCarthy said. Trump was a strong supporter of McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House all week as Republican infighting delayed the start of the 118th Congress. He helped McCarthy secure the gavel when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) got on the phone with Trump to try to speak with Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT).
The California Republican said of Trump: “I don’t think anyone should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning”, and he also pointed out that the former president was “helping get those final votes”.
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Members of the House of Representatives were expected to be sworn in along with the Senate on Tuesday. However, after four days and 15 rounds of voting, the ceremony did not take place until McCarthy was confirmed as the speaker on Saturday morning.
The Democratic-controlled Senate was sworn in as scheduled Tuesday after Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) was confirmed as the first female president pro tempore.