After giving in to the demands of a bloc of hard right wing GOP House members, US. Rep. Kevin McCarthy finally managed to secure enough votes Friday night to become the next House Speaker, ending a week-long grind that saw 14 rounds of failed ballots amid growing tension on the House floor.
The lawyers arrived at the evening session believing the process would move along smoothly after days of delays, while McCarthy worked to bring along the naysayers.
But during the roll call on Friday evening. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz surprised the assembly by voting “present” — instantly handing McCarthy his 14th defeat.
According to previous reports, Gaetz believed McCarthy failed to adequately defend him after a federal investigation — which looked into allegations that Gaetz was involved in sex trafficking of a minor — resulted in no charges filed against the Congressman.
As the proceedings came to a halt because of Gaetz’ non-vote, McCarthy briskly walked up the aisle to confront the congressman. Other House members converged on the scene to point fingers and yell at Gaetz, who pointed back and stood his ground, all while seated next to his holdout-buddy Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado, who also voted as “present.”
After a short break, the lawyers held another vote. With several more holdouts voting “present,” McCarthy finally — at 12:27 pm EST — had met the threshold to once again become House Speaker.