Kevin McCarthy secures Speakership after historic floor battle

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) became the 55th Speaker of the House in the midnight hour on Saturday, ending a historic four-day, 15-ballot stalemate caused by a group of 20 hardline conservative members — and fulfilling the California Republican’s longtime goal.

The final vote, on the 15th ballot, was 216 for McCarthy, 212 for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and six present votes. With the present votes, he needed 215 votes to win.

McCarthy’s securing of the Speakership came after a dramatic scene on the House floor on the 14th ballot, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) casting the deciding vote that put McCarthy just one vote shy of the gavel.

Members huddled around Gaetz in intense discussion after the vote. At one point, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) went up to the group in anger, and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) physically pulled Rogers back.

Republicans were about to adjourn until Monday — until Gaetz approached McCarthy, who asked for one more vote. On that ballot, all remaining holdouts flipped to vote present so he would win.

It is a major victory for McCarthy. There were points when many outside observers — and even privately some of his House GOP supporters — did not think he was going to be able to pull it off.

He proved them wrong.