After a historic and painstaking 15 rounds of voting, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) thanked former President Donald Trump for helping him “get those final votes” to win his bid for House speaker, after a group of hard-right GOP dissenters refused to support the California Republican and had largely rebuffed Trump’s requests throughout the long process.
Trump posted a video of McCarthy thanking the former president on his social media platform Truth Social, captioning it: “Thank you Kevin. It was my great honor.”
In the video, McCarthy, who was elected House speaker just past midnight Saturday morning after a historic deadlock, said he doesn’t “think anybody should doubt [Trump’s]
influence” and that “he was with me from the beginning.”
McCarthy said he talked to Trump Friday night, as the former president and 2024 GOP hopeful helped him secure a victory—four GOP House members that had voted for Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Andy Biggs (Ariz) in the fourteenth round instead voted “present” in the final round, reducing the threshold needed for a victory.
Trump had suffered an embarrassment earlier in the week when many hardline conservatives—formerly Trump’s greatest supporters—ignored his call to support McCarthy after the fourth round of voting on Wednesday to avoid an “embarrassing defeat.”
Photos from the chamber also showed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a hardline MAGA Republican and Trump ally, passing a phone that was dialed to “DT” (presumably Trump) to Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.)—a so-called “never Kevin”—with Greene posting the photo on Twitter, calling it the “perfect phone call.”
Rosendale, one of six Republicans, including Biggs, Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Eli Crane (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Bob Good (Va.) who voted “present” in the fifteenth round—enabling McCarthy to become Speaker—appeared to wave off the phone call.
Despite Trump’s plea to far-right dissenters in the House to support McCarthy, several of his biggest allies refused to vote for him, with Boebert saying on the House floor that “my favorite president” needs to “tell Kevin McCarthy you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw.” Boebert changed her vote to “present” in the fourteenth round, after voting for Jordan, Hern and Donalds in previous rounds of voting. Gaetz also argued on the floor that Republicans “do not trust Mr. McCarthy with power,” while Good said he would “never” vote for McCarthy.
McCarthy secured the 216 votes he needed to win just after midnight Saturday morning. The California Republican had flipped 15 Republicans opposed to a McCarthy speakership, including a member of a group of so-called “never-Kevins” earlier in the day Friday—the first sign of progress toward a final decision. His dissenters had rallied around Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Biggs and Jordan, although Jordan consistently pleaded with his GOP colleagues to vote instead for McCarthy.
Gaetz, one of the last remaining holdouts who refused to cast a vote for McCarthy and at one point nominated and voted for Trump for the speaker position, had the opportunity to end the days-long voting process in the 14th round, but refused, instead voting “present.” In a tense moment, McCarthy appeared to confront Gaetz after the vote, while Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) was held back by Rep. Rich Hudson (R-N.C.), as several people were heard yelling from their seats.
What To Watch For
McCarthy’s agenda as House speaker. The California Republican said that by helping him secure votes in the House, Trump’s message was that “we have to focus on the economy and we have to focus on making our borders secure.” Without a speaker, the House, which flipped to the GOP in the midterm elections, isn’t able to swear in new members, make committee appointments or launch a series of investigations into the Biden Administration, Hunter Biden and the Department of Justice that House Republicans had indicated he would support as speaker.