Kevin McCarthy holding the gavel after his election as the 55th Speaker
of the United States House of Representatives
by Mary Foran
In the longest speaker contest in 164 years, Bakersfield, California representative Kevin McCarthy finally won the vote for Speaker of the House of Representatives after 15 rounds of voting and intense negotiations.
He was followed second by Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, who made history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress.
The 118th Congress reconvenes in full this week. McCarthy is the country’s 55th Speaker and so becomes second in line to the Presidency after the Vice-President, Kamala Harris.
Many in the media were quick to point out McCarthy’s shortcomings: “He is not Nancy Pelosi,” they said. Many others hope that is true and point out that Nancy Pelosi was a hard-line Democrat who didn’t allow for dissent and the reading of bills.
The Establishers of the Constitution saw the House as a powerful forum to address factions in society, a legislative crucible where different interests could be expressed and resolved in majoritarian compromise. The legislative process can inform citizens while exposing legislative proposals to public scrutiny.
Some of McCarthy’s power concessions may change the status quo, and improve the process to allow for greater dissent and debate.
As Brazil boils in protests over the new President, and Biden visits the border for the first time since his election two years ago, the new speakership shows what can be done in a democracy when there is a peaceful transition of power.
Featured image/Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, PD
Nancy Pelosi/US Department of Labor, PD
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