Internal GOP Tensions Cause Speaker Election Strife

The speaker of the House, a coveted governmental role and second in line to the presidency was recently in limbo for the longest time in years. After five days and 15 votes, Republican Kevin McCarthy was finally elected to the position of speaker of the House over the 118th congress. 

Before this vote, it had been nearly a century since it had taken multiple ballots to elect a speaker. This lengthy delay in a consensus was initially caused by a group of 20 conservative republicans, namely Lauren Boebert (R-CO.) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL.) —both of whose political careers have been riddled with scandal but after 5 ballots, McCarthy continued to lose support, signaling internal tensions with the GOP house members. The resistance to McCarthy grew from the mounting demands of these 20 republicans for various changes in House protocol, including making it easier for the House to remove the speaker from their seat. 

Tensions reached a high point on Friday the 6th after a 14th vote failed to pass. McCarthy supporter Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) began a shouting match with Gaetz which quickly turned physical.

AP / Andrew Harnik

Meanwhile, Democrats continued to unanimously vote for Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY.) throughout all 15 rounds of voting. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was seen in conference with various republicans throughout the five days, notably Paul Gosar (R-AZ.), who faced enormous scrutiny in 2021 after posting a doctored anime video of the congresswoman being killed. As a result, Gosar was censured from the House and removed from all committees. Additionally, his sister Jennifer, and other family members publicly condemned his actions and celebrated his censure. 




The rift between the Republican party on this issue is notable, as McCarthy had been endorsed by Former President Donald Trump for the speaker campaign, and previously allied Republicans differed on this vote. For example, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA.) backed McCarthy which came as a surprise to many, as Greene is a longtime supporter of Trump. Greene’s motives lie however in McCarthy’s promise to place the congresswoman back on her committees which she had been removed from previously. This vote marks a noticeable change in the Republican party, with prominent conservative members going against the commonly Trump-aligned majority. However, unlike in the midterms, the question was not one between Mike Pence and Donald Trump, but between a Trump-backed nominee and someone perhaps more right-wing.

Now that McCarthy has been elected, he’s announced his first priorities will be investigating various IRS agents, enforcing stricter border protocols, and investigating President Biden’s son, Hunter. McCarthy’s leadership over a deeply divided House of Representatives will mark a fascinating period, especially as he aims to work with members of his own party who rejected his election to the speakership.