How Kevin McCarthy Won
He survived the GOP revolt to become House speaker
After two full days and six rounds of voting, with 21 Republican holdouts blocking Kevin McCarthy’s long-held dream of becoming speaker of the House, the 57-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif., gathered a small group of lawmakers to hear his final pitch.
Huddled in the office of Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), McCarthy told the three moderates and four holdouts that his offer was to become the 55th speaker by significantly weakening the position and empowering his party’s hard-liners.
The meeting, according to people present and briefed, became a turning point in breaking the impasse as much for the terms of the deal as for how it reestablished trust between the two factions. The small group was selected among those who had shown good faith in weeks of negotiations, and turned into what was described as a “therapy” session. The holdouts explained that McCarthy had offended them by rejecting their wish list of committee assignments after he’d been the one to ask for it, and for delivering a fiery speech to the Republican conference saying he’d “earned” the job. The moderates, in turn, gained assurances that the concessions to the hard-liners weren’t unreasonable and wouldn’t be abused.
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