Speaker candidate Kevin McCarthy takes a significant step to securing the gavel after four days of deadlock and 14 voting rounds as he manages to win 15 of the 20 hardline fellow Republicans blocking his path.
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has flipped 15 colleagues to support him in dramatic votes for House speaker, making extraordinary gains on the fourth day and the 12th and 13th ballots of a gruelling standoff that was testing American democracy and the Republicans' ability to govern.
The changed votes from conservative holdouts on Friday, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, put McCarthy closer to seizing the gavel for the new Congress — but not yet able.
The stunning turnaround came after McCarthy agreed to many of the detractors' demands — including the reinstatement of a longstanding House rule that would allow any single member to call a vote to oust him from office.
That change and others mean the job he has fought so hard to gain will be weakened.
After McCarthy won the most votes for the first time on the 12th ballot, a 13th was swiftly launched, this time, just between McCarthy and the Democratic leader, with no nominated Republican challenger to siphon GOP votes away.
But six GOP holdouts still cast their ballots for unnominated others, denying him the majority needed.
READ MORE: McCarthy fails 11th time as US House reaches 1859-era dysfunction level
US House of representatives moves to 13th vote to choose a speaker after McCarthy makes gains among fellow republicans pic.twitter.com/aEdSSwoqdW— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 6, 2023
'We’re at a turning point'
A few minutes before voting began in the House chamber, Republicans tiring of the spectacle walked out when one of McCarthy's most ardent challengers railed against the GOP leader.
"We do not trust Mr. McCarthy with power," said Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida, as colleagues streamed out of the chamber in protest of his remarks.
Contours of a deal with conservative holdouts who have been blocking McCarthy's rise emerged, but agreement had seemed still out of reach after three dismal days and 13 failed votes in a political spectacle unseen in a century.
But an upbeat McCarthy told reporters as he arrived at the Capitol on Friday morning, "We're going to make progress. We're going to shock you."
One significant former holdout, Republican Scott Perry, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, tweeted after his switched vote for McCarthy: "We’re at a turning point."
The showdown that has stymied the new Congress came against the backdrop of the second anniversary of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which shook the country when a mob of then-president Donald Trump's supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying the Republican's 2020 election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
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