Republicans officially take control of the U.S. House of Representatives

Speaker+of+the+House+Kevin+McCarthy+receives+gavel.+Photo+courtesy+of+Win+McNamee+via+Getty+Images

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Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy receives gavel. Photo courtesy of Win McNamee via Getty Images

Arianna Heyman , Features Editor

After numerous failed attempts at confirming a Republican Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was sworn in as Speaker of the House on Jan. 7. 2023 — and the 118th congress commenced. 

The swearing in was delayed by four days after much contention in the Republican party. House Republicans were unable to come to a consensus on who should be the speaker, and therefore incumbent and newly elected representatives were unable to take the oath of office.

The delay was caused by a small faction of Republicans who refused to vote for McCarthy as speaker. Instead, they rallied behind Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla.

House Dems will continue to put people over politics,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a tweet condemning the Republican party’s infighting. “Republicans are putting politics over the people. And so America lacks a fully formed Congress for the first time in 100 years.”

President Joe Biden also denounced the discord, calling the failure to elect McCarthy “embarrassing,” but “not my problem.” 

“The rest of the world is looking,” Biden added.

The inability to confirm McCarthy was the first time in a century that the house failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot. The last time this occurred was in 1923 with the confirmation of Frederick H. Gillett of Massachusetts, when it took nine ballots to confirm the speaker. 

For McCarthy, it took 15 rounds of voting, but at 1:30 a.m. EST, he was finally confirmed and received the speaker’s gavel. 

During his remarks, McCarthy asserted his goals and responsibilities as speaker, stating that his ultimate responsibility was not to his party, but his country. He also detailed his party’s plans to cut the national debt, low gas prices and hold government accountable. 

“Our system is built on checks and balances — it’s time for us to be the check and provide some balance to the President’s policies,” McCarthy said. “There is nothing more important than making it possible for American families to live and enjoy the lives they deserve.”

McCarthy also stressed the importance of “fighting” for the country and recognizing that it is a nation worth fighting for. 

“Our nation is worth fighting for. Our rights are worth fighting for. Our dreams are worth fighting for. Our future is worth fighting for,” he said.

Following McCarthy’s remarks, Biden released a congratulatory statement and reaffirmed his commitment to work with Republicans. 

“Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House,” Biden said. “The American people expect their leaders to govern in a way that puts their needs above all else, and that is what we need to do now.”

“As I said after the midterms, I am prepared to work with Republicans when I can, and voters made clear that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well,” Biden continued. “Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided, it is time for that process to begin.”