WASHINGTON (BP) – Kevin McCarthy is the Speaker of the House of Representatives after a weeklong series of 15 votes. The House met into the early morning hours of Saturday (Jan. 7) to select McCarthy.
In his acceptance speech, McCarthy, R-Calif., said, “You know, my father always told me, it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. And now we need to finish strong for the American people.”
Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., had secured all the democratic votes in every vote.
Speaking to Jeffries, McCarthy said, “There will be times we agree and many times we will differ. I promise our debates will be passionate, but they will never be personal. That’s my commitment to you.”
Brent Leatherwood, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), offered congratulations to Speaker McCarthy but also raised serious concerns in comments emailed to Baptist Press.
“The selection of the Speaker of the House is an important decision that requires thoughtful consideration. Sometimes, as was the case this week, other policies are part of those deliberations. All of that is a normal part of organizing the House. But the manner in which some of the Representatives carried out their back and forth tended to be more about showmanship than statesmanship,” Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood expressed fears that an already negative view of Congress will be further weakened by the week’s events.
“In survey after survey of Americans over the last decade, Congress has consistently been ranked one of the institutions with the lowest amount of trust. I’m concerned the events of the last week have only made that number worse,” he wrote.
Up to 20 Republicans refused to vote for McCarthy throughout the week. He eventually convinced the group to either vote for him or to vote “present” clearing the way for his victory. He made several concessions to the group including the reinstatement of a longstanding House rule that would allow any single member to call a vote to oust him from office.
“We look forward to engaging the new Speaker and the entire House of Representatives about the issues of concern to our churches in the weeks and months ahead,” wrote Leatherwood.
“As we do so, we will pray that they exhibit the kind of leadership that will go a long way toward restoring trust in this vital institution of American life.”