Newly elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) praised Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and former President Donald Trump for helping him secure the speaker’s gavel in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Gaetz, whose “present” vote helped lower the vote threshold to give McCarthy the speakership, helped get his other five detractors to vote “present” during the final speaker vote instead of voting for someone else, McCarthy said.
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“It became a tie and … Matt really wanted to get everybody there. Through all of this, people’s emotions go up and down. At the end of the night, Matt got everybody there to the point that nobody voted against it. It actually helped unite,” the speaker said.
Gaetz said the switch from voting for another candidate to voting “present” came because he ran out of things to ask McCarthy for in the House rules legislation that is expected to be voted on Monday. McCarthy made concessions to the group of 20 GOP lawmakers who initially opposed him in order to get the votes necessary to become the speaker. However, some details on what final concessions were made have not been released.
The former president’s influence should also be noted, McCarthy said. Trump was a loud backer for McCarthy as the next House speaker all week as Republican infighting delayed the start of the 118th Congress. He helped McCarthy secure the gavel when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) got on the phone with Trump to try and talk to Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT).
The California Republican said about Trump, “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning,” and he also noted that the former president was “helping get those final votes.”
Members of the House of Representatives were expected to be sworn in alongside the Senate on Tuesday. However, after four days and 15 rounds of voting, the ceremony did not happen until McCarthy was confirmed as speaker early Saturday morning.
The Democrat-controlled Senate was sworn in on schedule on Tuesday after Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) was confirmed as the first female president pro tempore.