Washington: The US House of Representatives elected Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy as Speaker Saturday after a historic and embarrassing deadlock that kept the lower chamber from being fully functional days after the new Congress convened earlier this week.
McCarthy from California who has been the House Republican leader since 2019, will finally take the gavel after 15 rounds of voting since the 118th Congress convened Tuesday, despite his party holding a majority in the chamber, reports the BBC.
The development came after a dramatic pressure campaign played out live on the House floor as Republican rebel Matt Gaetz was urged to vote for Mr McCarthy.
The Florida Congressman was among six holdouts who relented late Friday.
This was the longest Speaker contest in 164 years.
Not since 1860 in the build-up to the American Civil War, when the US’ union was fraying over the issue of slavery, has the lower chamber of Congress voted so many times to pick a Speaker.
Back then it took 44 rounds of ballots.
Meanwhile, Democrat Representative Hakeem Jeffries has made history by becoming the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress.
The Speaker of the House is the second in line to the presidency, after Vice President Kamala Harris.
They set the agenda in the House, and no legislative business can be conducted there without them.
Speaking after his confirmation, McCarthy wrote on Twitter: “I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up. And I will never give up for you, the American people.”
After the 13th ballot was adjourned,the Republican had insisted to reporters that he would “have the votes” to take the speakership on the next round, the BBC reported.
Friday was the first day that McCarthy’s vote count actually surpassed that of Jeffries.
In November 8, 2022 midterm elections, Republicans won the House by a weaker-than-expected margin of 222 to 212.
Democrats retained control of the Senate.