Jan 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy elected House speaker after historic battle with GOP rebels

Kevin McCarthy applauds in the House Chamber during the third day of speaker elections on January 05, 2023. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy clinched the speakership shortly after midnight on Saturday, resolving a historic stalemate that embarrassed and frustrated the GOP this week.

Why it matters: The California Republican’s hard-won ascendancy follows a feud that saw a group of far-right conservatives repeatedly defy him — and could preview a new era of divided government.

  • GOP rebels Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and Rep.-elect Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) voted "present" on the 15th ballot.
  • Former President Trump gave McCarthy a last-minute boost by calling both Gaetz and Biggs tonight and telling them the speakership needed to be resolved, a source familiar with the calls tells Axios.

The big picture: McCarthy reached an agreement with more than a dozen GOP detractors that allows them to wield more power in the new Congress after weeks of tense negotiations.

  • The deadlock during five days of voting highlighted internal strife over the direction of the party as it was set to take control of the House with a fragile majority.
  • The breakthrough came after 15 rounds of voting.
  • McCarthy’s rocky road to victory made history as the longest battle for the gavel of the post-Civil War era — and marked the first time in a century that it has taken the House more than one ballot to elect a speaker.
Go deeper