In a tense exchange on the House floor Friday night, one Republican representative had to be physically restrained from his colleague as McCarthy failed yet again to secure a win for the speakership.
Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers and Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz had a heated exchange when the latter refused once again to support Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speaker on the fourteenth vote. When it became clear that McCarthy would not secure the necessary number of votes in that round, Rogers angrily lunged at Gaetz reportedly telling him he would regret his decision, CNBC reported.
Rogers was then physically restrained by incoming National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Richard Hudson of North Carolina.
Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican ally of McCarthy, had angrily confronted Matt Gaetz, telling him he would regret his decision. Lawmakers on the floor yelled in disbelief as Rogers was held back by a colleague.https://t.co/5knXLXc0Pg
— ABC 33/40 News (@abc3340) January 7, 2023
The confrontation came just moments after McCarthy walked up the aisle to plead with Republican hold-outs, specifically Gaetz, to change their votes from “present” to McCarthy. McCarthy had already failed 13 times to win the speakership with a handful of members from the Freedom Caucus thwarting his path to victory, according to CNBC.
Republican North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, told Fox News. “I’ve seen three or four moments like – that would even approach that in my 18 years, and that, that might have just taken the cake.” He added, “Cooler heads prevailed in a really intense moment.”
Once things settled down in the chamber, another vote was held after McCarthy and his allies convinced remaining Republican holdouts to vote “present’ thereby lowering the required number of votes he would need to win the speakership, CNBC reported. (RELATED: ‘I’m Sure It Will Be Dealt With’: MTG Weighs In On Matt Rogers’ Heated Confrontation Of Matt Gaetz)
McCarthy won on the 15th ballot, after offering major concessions to the Republican holdouts. In his victory speech, McCarthy alluded to his embattled fight for the speakership post.
“You know – my father always told me: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And now we need to finish strong for the American people,” he said according to Fox News.
“As Speaker of the House, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility – our responsibility – is to our country,” the Californian continued. “Two months ago, you voted for a new direction for our country. You embraced our Commitment to America. And now, we are going to keep our commitment to you,” he added.
While McCarthy’s embattled road to become Speaker of the House was fraught with frustration and division, his fifteen vote journey is not the longest or most contentious speaker election in history. In 1855, after two months and 133 ballots, Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts was finally selected for the post, according to History, Art and Archives of the House of Representatives.