Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy is the new speaker of the House after 15 votes over four days.
McCarthy prevailed by a 216-212 margin over Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries early Saturday morning after six GOP lawmakers voted “present.”
Four of them — Reps. Bob Good of Virginia, Eli Crane of Arizona, Matt Rosendale of Montana, and Andy Biggs of Arizona — voted “present” in the final ballot to push McCarthy over the top.
Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, the leader of the opposition, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado had devoted “present” earlier and stuck to it.
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But that last vote did not happen without some excitement, as one of McCarthy’s backers apparently lunged at Gaetz in an effort to hurt him.
One reason for McCarthy’s “win” was that the 20 initial Republicans who resisted making him their leader apparently forced the Californian into a series of concessions.
Gaetz told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Friday before the final, decisive vote that he literally ran out of “stuff” to ask McCarthy for.
“I am excited and encouraged,” said Gaetz. “I am grateful that Speaker-designate McCarthy has been so receptive to each and every change that we have demanded.
And Sean, we’re at the stage right now where I’m running out of stuff to ask for.”
“It’s never been about him, it’s been about draining the swamp,” Gaetz added.
But the drama occurred on the previous vote, when Alabama Republican Mike Rogers had to be restrained by his colleagues after lunging at Gaetz.
Gaetz had voted “present” in that next-to-last round, depriving McCarthy of victory by one vote and ensuring at least one more vote was needed. He also fulfilled his promise to “never” vote for McCarthy to get the top job.
McCarthy ignited the tension by apparently confronting Gaetz and Boebert to get one of them to switch their vote for him. They obviously declined.
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Video of the ensuing confrontation showed Rogers yelling at Gaetz and jabbing his finger at him, before North Carolina GOP Rep. Richard Hudson essentially grabbed Rogers around the neck and pulled him away.
According to the conservative website 100% Fed Up, Rogers had to be restrained “before an all-out fistfight could break out on the House floor.”
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, normally a Gaetz ally who broke with him over the McCarthy vote, told Fox News, “Mike Rogers lost his temper and was basically going to, you know, put his hands on Matt.”
Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, who was between both men, offered a different take on the dust-up.
On Saturday, he told CNN that Rogers, who chairs the committee that controls committee assignments, was “making threats about ending careers.”
CNN reported that Rogers allegedly said, “Matt, you’re finished.”
“People shouldn’t be drinking, especially when you’re a redneck, on the House floor,” Burchett said.
“I would drop him like a bag of dirt,” he added of Rogers. “Nobody’s gonna put their hands on me. Nobody’s gonna threaten me.”
“It’s just one of those things — you’ve been around fights before, you’ve seen it. Some guy gets in your face and then it’s just an unfortunate moment is all it was. It shouldn’t have happened. He shouldn’t have crossed that line.”