Kevin McCarthy becomes the new US House speaker after compromising with ultraconservative bloc

Kevin McCarthy, 55th speaker of the United States House of Representatives

The 57 year-old republican representative from California’s 23rd congressional district wins speaker chair after making major compromises with an ultraconservative bloc of the party.

Republican representative Kevin McCarthy was finally elected as the speaker of the US House of Representatives on Saturday after five days of chaotic voting. This however was possible only after making major compromises to an ultraconservative bloc of party. His victory in 15th ballot ended the deepest congressional dysfunction in more than 160 years.

This win was not achieved without one final humiliation when representative Matt Gaetz held his vote on the 14th ballot which led to a scuffle in which fellow Republican Mie Rogers had to be escorted away. This also illustrates the difficulties that lie ahead for the newly elected speaker in leading a narrow and deeply polarized majority.

The election was quite a close one where McCarthy won by a grim margin of 216 to 212. This was only possible when six of his own party members withheld their votes. Midterm elections in   November left republicans with a weak majority lead of just votes strengthening the radical right wingers who opposed McCarthy’s leadership.

In his inaugural speech McCarthy said, “Our system is built on checks and balances. It’s time for us to be a check and provide some balance to the president’s policies,” He further laid out his priorities including cutting spending and immigration.