With midterm elections long gone and all races have been decided it was now time for the U.S. House of Representatives to begin their work. Before House business could get underway, they needed to select a Speaker of the House.
The major candidates were Kevin McCarthy on the Republican side, and Hakeem Jefferies for the Democrats. On Jan. 3, 2023, the house began voting for speaker. What is usually an easy process was not, and for the first time since before the Civil War, America saw the most contested speaker election.
The House Democratic Caucus consists of 212 Democrats who unanimously voted for Jefferies every round.
McCarthy’s votes would sometimes fluctuate — one day having 203, another day having 200. Both Jefferies and McCarthy would usually have needed 218 votes to win, but McCarthy was able to win with only 216 votes. This was able to happen due to six Republicans voting “present” which ultimately just means you are making your vote not count.
The numerous amounts of voting and going back and forth created a lot of tension, as well as intense negotiation among the Republican side to elect McCarthy to the Speaker position.
Some representatives even took to Twitter to discuss how difficult and ridiculous the whole situation was. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL 10th District) referred to the voting process as a “worldstar video.” Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA 29th District) made a joke about a baby being born the first round of votes and that baby now being a 4-month-old. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA 14th District) called out the Republicans who were not supporting McCarthy and messing up the plan to stop Democrats. After a long four days and 15 ballots, McCarthy secured a win, and the House has its speaker and can begin its ability to govern.