Key takeaways from Kevin McCarthy's speakership win

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Sunday, January 8, 2023
Key takeaways from Kevin McCarthy's speakership win
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A historic standoff came to an end Saturday when California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy won the speakership after 15 rounds of voting.

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTVD) -- A historic standoff came to an end Saturday when California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy won the speakership after 15 rounds of voting.

Senior political analyst Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation said the delay was caused in part by division within the Republican Party.

"Most of them were willing to go along with Kevin McCarthy as the new speaker, but there were some holdouts and enough holdouts that it was easy for them to stick together at least for a while," Kokai said.

The 20 holdouts that opposed McCarthy were hard-lined on how Washington does business.

"What they were really looking for, was a change in the way that the process will play out, the waybills will be handled on the floor, the way things will be done more in an open transparent way than behind closed doors and with just a handful of people making decisions," Kokai said.

He added that very little business that's transacted in the US House involves all of the members.

"Most of it is done with committees, where the committee chairs are the power brokers who decide what happens, and then the top leadership decides what bills go forward, what bills do not," Kokai said. "And there were a lot of members of that Republican Caucus who said, "Look, this is our opportunity to change that.'"

Kokai said almost all Republicans need to be on board for them to pass anything and send it over to the Senate, with Democrats still controlling the Senate and with Joe Biden in the White House.

"I think for Republicans, they can either approach this session in two ways," Kokai said. "If they want legislation that's going to go to the Senate, get passed by the Senate, and signed by President Biden, it's going to have to be legislation that really isn't very strongly conservative or associated only with Republicans. It'll have to be the type of thing that that both parties can easily unite around. I think the other way that they can approach this session is, look, this is our opportunity to tell the American people what Republicans would do if they also control the Senate and also control the White House."

Although Kokai said this didn't delay anything in terms of actual legislation, what it did delay is some behind-the-scenes work, such as new members moving forward with their staffing and getting things up and running in their office.

While most recently, experienced Democrats have had powerful roles, Kokai said now that the control of the House has moved to the Republican Party, experienced Republicans will have powerful roles in Congress, such as NC Rep. Richard Hudson, who helped restrain an Alabama congressman.

"I think another person who benefited ... is Dan Bishop," Kokai said. "He actually got his profile raised because he was not only one of the holdouts but was one of the people willing to talk about it. Now people know that he is one of the voices who is willing to stand up to his own party if he doesn't think that they're conducting business the way it should be conducted in Congress."