Republican Kevin McCarthy from California became the 55th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday morning with 216 votes, after defeating Democrat Hakeem Jeffries who received 212 votes. Six Republicans voted ‘present’ instead of for McCarthy.
McCarthy, who replaces Nancy Pelosi of California, became Speaker of the 118th Congress on the 15th vote, after losing the previous 14 votes. The narrow win means that McCarthy and the Republican majority may find it hard to govern.
McCarthy was sworn into office by Harold Dallas Rogers, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky. McCarthy then sworn in other members.
In a speech after his election, McCarthy promised to get things done using the power of the purse and the power of Subpoena. He said that the Republican majority will work to cut spending and secure the U.S. southern border.
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released a statement congratulating McCarthy on his election, saying that the “American people expect their leaders to govern in a way that puts their needs above all else.”
Biden wrote, “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.
“As I said after the midterms, I am prepared to work with Republicans when I can and voters made clear that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well. Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin.
“Today we learned that my plan to build an economy that works from the bottom up and the middle out has achieved the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. And that we made 2021 and 2022 the best years for job growth on record.
“It’s imperative that we continue that economic progress, not set it back. It is imperative that we protect Social Security and Medicare, not slash them. It is imperative that we defend our national security, not defund it. These are some of the choices before us.
“As the last two years show, we can do profound things for the country when we do them together.
“For example, this week I travelled to Kentucky to highlight the growing benefits that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is bringing to communities all over the country.
“This is a time to govern responsibly and to ensure that we’re putting the interests of American families first.”