The California lawmaker narrowly overcomes opposition from right-wing legislators to secure the speaker’s gavel.
Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy has been elected speaker of the House of Representatives, overcoming the opposition of right-wing dissenters who had derailed for several days his bid to lead the chamber.
It took 15 rounds of voting for McCarthy to secure the House’s gavel, securing 216 of the 428 votes cast late on Friday. The Democrats’ Hakeem Jeffries got 212 votes.
It was the first time in a century that a speaker was not elected in the first round.
McCarthy’s speakership bid appeared up in the air before the House meeting on Friday. He had been negotiating with right-wing dissenters after three days of failure to secure a majority.
Republicans only narrowly took control of the House after a disappointing midterm election performance in November that saw Democrats retain control of the United States Senate.
McCarthy, of California, replaces veteran legislator Nancy Pelosi, who announced plans to step down from the Democratic House leadership last month. Jeffries, a New York Democrat, will serve as House minority leader in the new Congress.
McCarthy previously vowed to use his new role to upset the Democratic agenda and intensify oversight over the administration of President Joe Biden.
The Republican dissenters had presented numerous demands before agreeing to back McCarthy, including changing House rules to allow any member to bring a no-confidence vote on the speaker.
They also sought a bigger say on the House Rules and Appropriations committees, which would allow them to influence the US government budget and help decide which bills can move forward in the chamber. Details of the possible deal that saw most of them change their votes in favor of McCarthy have not emerged.
The new House speaker has said he would launch a congressional investigation into the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden — an issue that Democrats dismiss as a conspiracy theory.