McCarthy, Jeffries Offer Fiery Speeches After Final Vote

New House Speaker McCarthy, Jeffries make promises as 118th Congress kicks off
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2023 7:00 AM CST
2 Big Speeches After McCarthy Finally Wins Speaker
Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California receives the gavel from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York on the House floor at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, early Saturday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

House Republican Kevin McCarthy finally ascended to the speaker's chair in Saturday's early hours after a night marked by tension and chaos, and both he and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries delivered fiery speeches that roused their respective parties and, at various times, the chamber as a whole:

  • CNN and MSNBC note that the Dems' Jeffries, the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress, was up first before handing the speaker's gavel to McCarthy, thanking former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and extending an invitation to work across the aisle. "As John Lewis would sometimes remind us on this floor, we may have come over on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now," he said. Jeffries noted, however, that Democrats "will never compromise [their] principles," then proceeded to run down a complete ABC-style list of what those principles were: "American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult," and so forth. Listen to Jeffries' speech in its entirety here.
  • Next up: the newly minted House speaker, who officially opened the 118th Congress after winning the 15th and final vote. "My father always told me: It's not how you start, it's how you finish," McCarthy said, alluding to the contentious proceedings that led up to that moment, per Fox News. "And now we need to finish strong for the American people." The California congressman went on to note some of the priorities under his leadership, including securing the US-Mexico border, slashing the $31 trillion-plus national debt, and investigating China. "Our nation is worth fighting for," he said. McCarthy told Jeffries that "our debates will be passionate, but never personal," and also offered a word of warning to his rival, who had unanimous support from Dems as a speaker nominee during the voting rounds: "I also won 100% of my conference vote on this floor two years ago. So, good luck!" See McCarthy's speech in its entirety here.
(More House of Representatives stories.)

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