Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida strode into the office of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy Monday night with a list of demands. Among them: Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee.
McCarthy declined the offer. The decision set off a chain of events that led to a public confrontation between Gates and McCarthy on the House floor late Friday night. Gates, McCarthy’s staunchest opponent, dramatically denied California Republicans the last vote he needed to become speaker — then Gates and the final opponents abruptly reversed course, giving McCarthy the 15th attempt Earned the Speaker’s gavel.
Chaos erupted in the House as Gates waited until the close of the 14th round to vote “present” before the final vote, and McCarthy needed one more “yes” vote. Stunned after believing he had the votes, McCarthy faced his most embarrassing defeat yet. His allies surrounded Gates, trying to find a way forward. McCarthy quickly opened up discussions and began approaching Gates.
After McCarthy walked away from Gates, looking frustrated, House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers walked to the conversation and swooped at Gates, only to be restrained by the Republican congressman. Richard Hudson of North Carolina. Rogers, an Alabama Republican who warned GOP dissidents earlier in the week that they would lose committee positions, told Gates that he would be “finished” for continuing to sabotage the speaker’s vote .
Nearby, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tried to convince Congressmen. Matt Rosendale of Montana, another McCarthy stickler, picked up her cell phone to speak to former President Donald Trump, who was online.
In the end, the House Clerk announced for the 14th time that no one had the speaker vote. Republicans proposed to adjourn until Monday. As the voting timer ticked down, 218 Republicans voted yes, a majority that would have sent McCarthy home for the weekend and paralyzed the House at the hands of Gates and his allies.
But with less than a minute to go before the vote, Gates walked to the front of the chamber and grabbed a red index card to change his vote to adjourn. Gates walked over to McCarthy, and the two exchanged a few words briefly. McCarthy then raised his hand and shouted, “One more!” as he triumphantly walked to the front of the chamber to change his vote. It was the last negotiation for the Republican leader, ending an emotional roller coaster over the course of four days as he was held hostage by a narrow faction in the conference. With dozens of Republicans following McCarthy and Gates in opposing the delay, McCarthy’s victory was finally within reach.
Read the full timeline of the tumultuous week here: