Biden congratulates McCarthy says this is a time to govern responsibly

PTI, Jan 7, 2023, 12:22 PM IST

US President Joe Biden on Saturday congratulated Congressman Kevin McCarthy on his election as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and said that this a time to govern responsibly.

McCarthy, 57, was elected as the House Speaker in a historic post-midnight 15th ballot on Saturday. He replaced Nancy Pelosi, 82, of the Democratic Party.

“This is a time to govern responsibly and to ensure that we’re putting the interests of American families first,” Biden said in a statement soon after McCarthy was elected as the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

He officially secured the speaker’s gavel and was elected during the 15th round of votes on the fourth day with 216 votes, which included some last-minute drama.

“(First Lady Dr) Jill (Biden) and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House. The American people expect their leaders to govern in a way that puts their needs above all else, and that is what we need to do now,” he said. Biden said he is prepared to work with Republicans when he can and voters made clear that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with him as well.

“Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin,” he said.

However, the Democratic leadership was not that generous. “Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s dream job could turn into a nightmare for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer alleged.

“To get the votes, he surrendered to demands of a fringe element of the Republican party. Kevin McCarthy’s concessions to the extremists in his party make it far more likely that the MAGA Republican-controlled House will cause a government shutdown or a default with devastating consequences to our country,” he said.

Americans want Congress to build on the historic bipartisan achievements from the last two years, not more gridlock, he said.

“House Republicans will have to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats if there is any hope of getting things done to improve the lives of the American people or to prevent a government shutdown or default,” Schumer said.

“Republicans have a choice to make: will they continue to capitulate to the extreme MAGA Republicans who want to hold our country hostage or will they stand up to them and work with Democrats in a bipartisan way to help America’s working families? Democrats are ready to get to work,” said the Senate Majority Leader.

DNC chair Jaime Harrison in a statement said that after repeatedly humiliating himself this week, McCarthy gave away the store to MAGA Republicans and is weaker than ever.

“Make no mistake: The most extreme MAGA Republicans are really in charge of the House GOP. They will spend the next two years spinning the House into complete chaos, and pushing their extreme agenda to gut Social Security and Medicare, cut taxes for the ultra-wealthy, and ban abortion nationwide without doing anything to lower costs for families,” Harrison said.

McCarthy becomes 55th House speaker after the fifth-longest contest in history. He won the gavel after 15 rounds of voting, making it the longest election for speaker. The longest vote in the US history took place in 1855, lasting 133 rounds over two months.

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