Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer went straight on the attack after Kevin McCarthy finally clinched his party’s vote to become House speaker early Saturday.
Sidestepping the customary message of congratulations for his House counterpart, the New York Democrat warned that Mr. McCarthy‘s concessions to Republican “extremists” to secure the top spot “could turn into a nightmare for the American people.”
“To get the votes, he surrendered to demands of a fringe element of the Republican party,” Mr. Schumer said. “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.”
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, won the speakership 216 to 212 just past midnight on Saturday after 15 ballots that spanned days of tense negotiations with a group of ultra-conservative holdouts.
In order to finally clinch the victory, Mr. McCarthy was forced to offer a series of concessions, including a house rules package that will give House members more power to eject him as speaker and a commitment to adopting a fiscal 2024 budget resolution “that balances within 10 years.”
Conservative holdouts also secured seats on key committees, including the influential Rules panel, which sets terms for debating bills on the House floor.
“That was easy. I never thought I’d get up here,” Mr. McCarthy said in jest just before he was sworn in. “I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up.”
Congratulatory messages flooded in after the dramatic final vote.
President Biden released a statement offering a small olive branch to his Republican foe.
“Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House,” Mr. Biden said. “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.”
Former President Donald Trump offered also offered his congratulations, noting that the process to elect Mr. McCarthy, “as crazy as it may seem, has made it all much bigger and more important than if done the more conventional way.”
“Congratulations to Kevin McCarthy and our GREAT Republican Party!” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also offered kind words for his fellow Republican in the House.
“Senate Republicans look forward to working together to check and balance Washington Democrats, bring oversight to this reckless Administration, fight the far left’s radical policies, and defend America,” Mr. McConnell wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Schumer warned Republicans “have a choice to make” as the new Congress gets underway.
“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,” he said. “Democrats are ready to get to work.”
• Joseph Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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