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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) delivered his first address as speaker shortly after midnight on Saturday following the 15th round of voting for the position.
McCarthy won with 216 votes over Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY) 211 votes because five Republican members voted “present,” thus lowering the bar needed for McCarthy to clinch the position.
“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,” McCarthy said in his prepared remarks. “And now the hard work begins. What we do here today, next week, next month, and next year will set the tone for everything that follows.”
“As Speaker of the House, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility — our responsibility — is to our country,” he continued. “Two months ago, you voted for a new direction for our country. You embraced our Commitment to America. And now, we are going to keep our commitment to you.”
KEVIN MCCARTHY, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (As prepared for delivery): 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.
If the son of a fireman and grandchild of immigrants can rise to the highest position in the most important legislative body in the world.
And if my colleague Hakeem Jeffries with his life story can rise to lead his party then opportunity and democracy still thrive in America.
To Leader Jeffries – there will be times we will agree and many times we will differ. I promise that our debates will be passionate, but never personal.
And now the hard work begins. What we do here today, next week, next month, and next year will set the tone for everything that follows.
Tonight, I want to talk directly to the American people.
As Speaker of the House, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress.
My responsibility – our responsibility – is to our country.
Two months ago, you voted for a new direction for our country. You embraced our Commitment to America. And now, we are going to keep our commitment to you.
It’s a commitment for an economy that is strong – where you can fill up your tank and feed your family; where paychecks grow, not shrink.
A commitment for a nation that’s safe – where communities are protected, law enforcement is respected, and criminals are prosecuted.
A commitment for a future that is built on freedom – where children come first and are taught to dream big, because, in America, dreams can still come true.
A commitment for a government that is accountable – where Americans get the answers they want, need, and deserve.
Our system is built on checks and balances. It’s time for us to be the check and provide some balance to the President’s policies.
There is nothing more important than making it possible for American families to live and enjoy the lives they deserve.
That is why we commit to stop wasteful Washington spending to lower the price of groceries, gas, cars, and housing and stop the rising national debt.
We pledge to cut the regulatory burden, lower energy costs for families, and create good-paying jobs for workers by unleashing reliable, abundant American-made energy.
Our first bill will repeal funding for 87,000 new IRS agents. Because the government should be here to help you, not go after you.
We’re going to pass bills to fix the nation’s urgent challenges – from the wide open southern border to America-Last energy policies to woke indoctrination in our schools.
We will also address America’s long-term challenges: the debt and the Chinese Communist Party. Congress must speak with one voice on both of these issues.
That is why we will end wasteful Washington spending! From now on, if a federal bureaucrat wants to spend it, they will come before this institution to defend it.
As for the Chinese Communist Party, we will create a bipartisan Select Committee on China to investigate how to bring back hundreds of thousands of jobs that went to China and win the economic competition.
Speaking of committees – we will hold the Swamp accountable – from the withdrawal from Afghanistan to the origins of COVID to the weaponization of the FBI.
We will use the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena to get the job done.
This is something we should all agree on – we will stand up and speak out for the backbone of our economy: the hardworking taxpayers.
It’s nighttime here in Washington… but in some ways, it’s also a new beginning, a fresh start.
My friends – this chamber is now fully open for all Americans.
From the Committee Room to this Floor, we commit to pursue the truth passionately and embrace debate. No more one-sided inquiries. Competing ideas will be put to the test in public so that the best ideas win.
But we also pledge to bring Congress to the people. Because answers have not and will not always be found in Washington.
That’s why one of our first hearings will be held at the Southern border. No more ignoring this crisis of safety and sovereignty. We must secure our border.
We must get America back on track.
On a personal note, I want to say thank you to my family: my wife, Judy, my children Meghan, Connor and Emily, my brother Marc, Monica, and Zac, and my mom Bert. I am where I am because you are who you are.
I would also like to thank my constituents in California’s Central Valley – especially my hometown of Bakersfield.
As Buck Owens sings, ‘how many of you that sit and judge me ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?’
Well, I’ve walked those streets. I know its people. They are hard working and relentlessly optimistic about our future – and I’m honored to represent them in Congress.
As a son of a firefighter, I saw first hand how teamwork, leadership, and service to others can change people’s lives. And that is exactly why we are here today: to serve you – the people.
We come here with the support of our families and the faith of our neighbors to be their voice in Washington.
For the husbands and wives, children and parents who are watching a loved one be sworn in, remember this moment. Take it in.
Your loved one is about to become a part of history.
My colleagues and I thank you for your understanding and your sacrifice. And we will work every day to make you proud.
Abraham Lincoln – a member of the House of Representatives for one term – gave his life in service to this country. One of his most important observations about America applies today as much as it did 160 years ago:
‘We are striving to maintain the government and institutions of our fathers, to enjoy them ourselves, and to transmit them to our children and our children’s children forever.’
My fellow Americans, that is still our mission today.
This moment calls for restoring trust within the country and with each other.
In that spirit, I will work with anyone and everyone who shares our passion to deliver a better future for the nation. I hope you will join me. As a Congress, we can only operate when we cooperate.
It’s time for us to be their voice and worthy of their vote.
Let me close with this.
I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up.
I will never give up for you, the American people.
And I will never give up on keeping our Commitment to America.
Our nation is worth fighting for.
Our rights are worth fighting for.
Our dreams are worth fighting for.
Our future is worth fighting for.
Therefore, with love for this country and charity for each other, let us now take our Oath and be ‘worthy of the office on which we are about to enter.’