McCarthy Lands Speakership on 15th Ballot … As Rep. Rogers Almost Lands Blows on Rep. Gaetz

Trump credited with helping seal the deal.

By Al Perrotta Published on January 7, 2023

It took four days, 15 ballots and near fisticuffs, but shortly after midnight Kevin McCarthy finally won the vote to become Speaker of the House. He was immediately sworn in, declaring, “My father always told me: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And now we need to finish strong for the American people.”

He laid out his legislative priorities, starting with the repeal of Biden new army of 87,000 IRS agents.

“We pledge to cut the regulatory burden, lower energy costs for families, and create good-paying jobs for workers by unleashing reliable, abundant American-made energy,” McCarthy said. “Our first bill will repeal funding for 87,000 new IRS agents. Because the government should be here to help you, not go after you.”

Added McCarthy in closing, “Our nation is worth fighting for. Our rights are worth fighting for. Our dreams are worth fighting for. Our future is worth fighting for.”

And speaking of fights … 

Rep. Mike Rogers Goes After Rep. Matt Gaetz

McCarthy’s win on the 15th ballot came after serious high drama during the 14th ballot. Word had been that McCarthy would win. Yet the tally rolled on, it looked like McCarthy would come up one short. It was all up to Matt Gaetz, who one day earlier said he wouldn’t be voting for McCarthy at all. However, he’d given indications Friday that McCarthy had conceded enough, “I ran out of things to ask for.” 

Yet he voted present.

In fact, there were reports Lauren Boebert had also said she would vote for McCarthy, only to change her mind when the actual vote came. She too “present.”

With the vote still not closed, GOP members made a beeline for Gaetz and Boebert, trying to convince one or both to switch their vote to McCarthy.  

This was better drama than anything on the networks and much closer to WWF. McCarthy spoke with Gaetz. Gaetz, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, was seen mouthing the word “committee.” McCarthy nodded in agreement and left. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of that committee, saw the exchange and went after Gaetz, presumably believing Gaetz had just demanded the committee chairmanship in exchange for his vote. 

Rogers was not happy, lunging at Gaetz, having to be restrained by other member. North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson put him in a near choke hold to wrestle him away. 

“I won’t forget this, Matt!” Rogers would shout at Gaetz.

The shot of Hudson with his left hand gripped on Rogers’ face will be one for the history books.

(Safest Bet of the Year: AP’s Andy Harnik wins a Pulitzer for this photo.)

Ultimately, Gaetz would again vote present on the 15th ballot. However, all four GOP reps who had voted for other people switched their vote to present, lowering the threshold needed by McCarthy to win. And our drama came to a close. Final tally, 216 for McCarthy, 212 for Jeffries. One victory for the messy process of democracy.

Response to McCarthy Win

The White House released a statement from Joe Biden:

“Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House. The American people expect their leaders to govern in a way that puts their needs above all else, and that is what we need to do now,” 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted:

Former President Donald Trump, who backed McCarthy and assisted in the negotiations over the four days, took to Truth Social to congratulate McCarthy.

The “Speaker” selection process, as crazy as it may seem, has made it all much bigger and more important than if done the more conventional way. Congratulations to Kevin McCarthy and our GREAT Republican Party!

The Republican Party really came together last night. It was, in so many ways, a beautiful thing to see. HISTORIC!

After the vote, McCarthy credited Trump with helping convince the final anti-McCarthy members to vote “present,” thus sealing the deal for the new Speaker. 

Rep. Byron Donalds, who saw his profile and stock rise during the ballot battle, earning 20 votes for Speaker himself at one point, wrapped the Speakership saga in a beautiful bow. 

What our nation has witnessed this week is a testament to the majesty of our Constitutional Republic and the ideals which have sustained our country for 246 years. Since day one, I’ve said leadership isn’t given, it’s earned, and the fruits of tireless labor have delivered a product that puts the American people first and restores power to We The People.


Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream, chief barista for The Brew and co-author, with John Zmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl at GETTRGabParler, and now at TRUTH Social.

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