15th Time is the Charm

Alia Sajjadian, Opinion Editor

When Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R – Bakersfield) finally took the podium as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, he banged the gavel twice before facing his colleagues and quipped, “I thought we’d never get here.”

Despite the 14 previous failed attempts to secure the position, McCarthy remained unruffled as he finally finagled enough votes to secure a slim majority and to achieve his career goal of leading the House. McCarthy addressed the weary House in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, communicated his commitment to work with all members of Congress, and reiterated his goal to find common ground to pass legislation on issues that the American people care about.

If the process of his appointment foreshadows the effectiveness of his leadership, the American people should be very concerned. The unwillingness of a handful of members in McCarthy’s own party managed to derail and delay a formality of Congress by several days. Although these members knew that McCarthy was the likely winner of this race and did not attempt to offer a different nominee, they instead opted to simply stall the formal business of lawmakers.

Perhaps to force the concessions to advance their own agendas, McCarthy negotiated to convert foes to votes in his favor as the night lagged on. As a new generation of voters watch, this debacle exemplifies that little coordination can be expected from Congress to even address pressing issues such as climate change and gun reform legislation, let alone take decisive action. Ironically, McCarthy idealistically used the analogy of rowers in a boat, working in unison to steer the vessel across a river, when in reality members of Congress are at best rowing in different directions. This display unfortunately reinforces the narrative of stagnation and discohesiveness that disheartens voters eager for change.