Matt Gaetz flips vote to Kevin McCarthy after 14 ballots

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Absolute mayhem broke out on the House floor as the 14th Speaker’s ballot left Kevin McCarthy one vote short of the gavel. 

McCarthy immediately walked up to Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert, presumably with the intent of persuading them to change their ‘present’ votes to ‘yes.’ 

Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama then lunged at Gaetz and had to be held back by Rep. Richard Hudson before an all-out fist fight could break out on the House floor. 

After a whirlwind back-and-forth where 21 anti-McCarthy holdouts were whittled down to just four, McCarthy was on the precipice of finally taking the speakership and the business of the House under Republican control could begin. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., waited till the end of the roll call to cast his ‘present’ vote, keeping the chamber on edge as the clerk ticked off all 435 names. 

Reps. Eli Crane of Arizona and Matt Rosendale of Montana cast their vote for Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Rep. Bob Good of Virginia cast his vote for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, got a standing ovation for casting his vote for McCarthy. He’d missed earlier votes as his wife had a baby but returned to Washington to set the California Republican on a path to victory. McCarthy walked across the House floor and gave him a hug. 

McCarthy walks back to his seat after speaking with Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert

McCarthy walks back to his seat after speaking with Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert

McCarthy walks back to his seat after speaking with Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., too got a round of applause for switching her vote from Rep. Kevin Hern to McCarthy. 

Ahead of the vote, longtime McCarthy defector Gaetz said on Fox News: ‘I’m running out of things to ask for.’ 

He has said over the past few days the only way he would vote for McCarthy is if the rules concessions made it so that he was wearing a ‘straitjacket.’  

McCarthy told reporters he now has the votes to become Speaker as the House moved to adjourn until 10 p.m. 

‘You’ll be calling me the Comeback Kid,’ the California Republican boasted after losing an unprecedented 13 elections for Speaker. 

Asked how he knew he’d have the votes by the 14th ballot, he snarked: ‘Because I counted.’  

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reacts after being nominated for a 14th time in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reacts after being nominated for a 14th time in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reacts after being nominated for a 14th time in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker

McCarthy seems in a far better mood as he expects to have the votes to pull off the Speaker's bid Friday night

McCarthy seems in a far better mood as he expects to have the votes to pull off the Speaker's bid Friday night

McCarthy seems in a far better mood as he expects to have the votes to pull off the Speaker’s bid Friday night 

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado changed her anti-McCarthy vote to 'present' helping McCarthy by lowering the threshold of votes he needs to win

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado changed her anti-McCarthy vote to 'present' helping McCarthy by lowering the threshold of votes he needs to win

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado changed her anti-McCarthy vote to ‘present’ helping McCarthy by lowering the threshold of votes he needs to win 

Last ones standing – these are the final GOP McCarthy dissenters

• Andy Biggs (AZ)

• Lauren Boebert (CO)

• Eli Crane (AZ)

• Matt Gaetz (FL)

• Bob Good (VA)

• Matt Rosendale (MT)

Gaetz, who hours ago predicted McCarthy would never be Speaker, told CNN after the last vote: ‘It’s looking like it’s heading that way.’ 

In a startling development, the GOP leader won more votes than he has seen in the last four days of the farce after his party held a conference call to try and strike a deal with the hardliners who have sunk his bid. 

McCarthy managed to score 214 votes in the last round of elections, leaving him short of winning the gavel but tantalizing close to victory.

The leeway comes after days of stalemate and crucial negotiations over concessions on Friday morning. 

The rebels flipped after McCarthy made more concessions in the package that includes votes on lawmaker term limits and border security, the motion to vacate the speaker and more roles on House committees.

Rep. Keith Self of Texas switched his vote because he supported the ‘significant’ rules changes that were made overnight. 

‘It has become clear to me that a couple of individuals are simply obstructionists, more interested in self-promotion than restoring the republic,’ he said. 

McCarthy had previously agreed to allow more members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to serve on the House Rules Committee, which dictates what bills make it to the House floor. 

He also agreed that his leadership PAC would stay out of safe primary races, therefore allowing conservatives to challenge more moderate Republicans in red districts. 

McCarthy also agreed to a Church-style committee to go after weaponization of the Department of Justice and FBI, named after late Sen. Frank Church, who oversaw investigations into intelligence agencies.  

GOP Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida told DailyMail.com he has ‘some issues’ with the concessions McCarthy made to the House Rebels, but ‘nothing that can’t be worked out.’ 

He said he absolutely would not support the reported $76 billion cut to Defense spending that was reportedly part of the Freedom Caucus deal McCarthy made. 

No House Speaker vote has gone on this long in modern US political history, and it’s set Republicans’ new majority in the chamber off to a rocky start. 

In 1856, it took former House Speaker Nathaniel Prentice Banks two months and 133 rounds of voting for the House of Representatives to settle on a leader – the longest stretch on record.

In the first round of voting on Friday, Rep. Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan and tore into McCarthy, causing approximately two dozen furious members of his caucus to stage a walk-out of the House floor. 

Gaetz called McCarthy ‘the Lebron James of special interest fundraising. He said McCarthy’s bid for Speaker was an ‘exercise in vanity’ driven by ‘personal ambition.’

‘That ambition is paralyzing the House now,’ Gaetz said. 

‘You only earn the position of Speaker of the House. If you can get the votes. Mr. McCarthy doesn’t have the votes today. He will not have the votes tomorrow and he will not have the votes next week, next month, next year.’ 

At one point, GOP Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois stood up and started shouting at Gaetz before being quieted by House Clerk Cheryl Johnson.

In a petulant manner, Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana walked out the chamber by beginning his vote with ‘Kevin…’ and pausing before adding ‘Hern!’ followed by groans from the GOP delegation supporting McCarthy.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly offered the 20 rogue Republicans a list of concessions he would make in exchange for their votes in the speakership race

Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly offered the 20 rogue Republicans a list of concessions he would make in exchange for their votes in the speakership race

Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly offered the 20 rogue Republicans a list of concessions he would make in exchange for their votes in the speakership race 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy is captured leaving the House chamber Thursday night after losing another round of votes in bid to become next Speaker of the House

Rep. Kevin McCarthy is captured leaving the House chamber Thursday night after losing another round of votes in bid to become next Speaker of the House

Rep. Kevin McCarthy is captured leaving the House chamber Thursday night after losing another round of votes in bid to become next Speaker of the House

Each time a McCarthy dissenter switched their vote on Friday, the rest of the pro-McCarthy faction of the conference stood up and applauded. 

Rep. Tim Burchett, Tennessee earned a standing ovation and cheers when he cast his vote by saying: ‘Based on the fact no one cheers when I speak, and I’ve never been asked to give a nomination speech – but I’m not bitter about it – Kevin McCarthy.’ 

Lawmakers appeared exhausted as the House Speaker vote dragged out across a third day

Lawmakers appeared exhausted as the House Speaker vote dragged out across a third day

Lawmakers appeared exhausted as the House Speaker vote dragged out across a third day

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona sits by himself during the tenth vote for Speaker, and fourth vote of Thursday

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona sits by himself during the tenth vote for Speaker, and fourth vote of Thursday

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona sits by himself during the tenth vote for Speaker, and fourth vote of Thursday

McCarthy spent much of the third day of votes walking around the chamber speaking to both allies and holdouts (seen speaking with Republican Rep.-elect Cory Mills of Florida)

McCarthy spent much of the third day of votes walking around the chamber speaking to both allies and holdouts (seen speaking with Republican Rep.-elect Cory Mills of Florida)

McCarthy spent much of the third day of votes walking around the chamber speaking to both allies and holdouts (seen speaking with Republican Rep.-elect Cory Mills of Florida)

Firebrand GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia were seen sitting next to each other, despite their public break over McCarthy's Speakership bid

Firebrand GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia were seen sitting next to each other, despite their public break over McCarthy's Speakership bid

Firebrand GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia were seen sitting next to each other, despite their public break over McCarthy’s Speakership bid

For the seventh round, McCarthy was nominated by Michigan Rep-elect John James

For the seventh round, McCarthy was nominated by Michigan Rep-elect John James

For the seventh round, McCarthy was nominated by Michigan Rep-elect John James

The historic gridlock has paralyzed Capitol Hill; with no Speaker, the 118th House of Representatives cannot be sworn in, and new legislation cannot move to the floor or through committees – which do not have formal chairs yet.

And on Wednesday, a group of Republican military veterans held a press conference warning that the disarray was leading to significant national security vulnerabilities. 

Florida Rep. Michael Waltz said from the podium, ‘Authoritarian regimes all over the world are pointing to what’s going on in the House of Representatives and saying, ‘Look at the messiness of democracy, look at how it doesn’t work, can’t function.”

MCCARTHY OFFERS FRESH CONCESSIONS TO WIN OVER HARD-RIGHT REPUBLICANS 

IN A STUNNING REVERSAL, THE GOP LEADER IS NOW OPEN TO ONCE ‘RED-LINE’ DEMANDS FROM RIGHT-WING REBELS 

• ONE-MEMBER ‘MOTION TO VACATE’ THE CHAIR 

In a major concession to the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the California Republican has offered to lower the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote to remove the speaker – from five to one – a change that the GOP leader had previously said he would not accept. 

• FREEDOM CAUCUS TO HAVE RULES COMMITTEE SEATS 

McCarthy is open to allowing GOP hardliners to handpick four of the party’s members on the powerful Rules Committee – no small concession as it controls what legislation reaches the floor, as well as allowing ANY lawmaker to propose changes on spending legislation, including any that would tank the measure.

• A VOTE ON TERM LIMITS

There were also discussions of introducing legislation limiting House members to three terms and Senators to two terms. The upper chamber is currently led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York meaning the proposal to limit the Senate is a no-go.

 • REBELS TO CHAIR SUB-COMMITTEE 

Several ‘Never Kevin Caucus’ members want high-profile assignments including Florida’s Matt Gaetz as chair of the House Armed Services subcommittee and Maryland’s Andy Harris as the head of the Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services 

• CHANGES TO APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS

The Freedom Caucus wants rule changes that would decentralize power in both the House GOP – and the rest of the chamber – to give more power to individual members.  The demand that committee chairs are selected by the committee and not the leadership, and rewards fundraising and party loyalty.