Our live coverage has wrapped up for the day. You can read more on the chaotic race for the speakership here.
Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee told CNN there was a positive side effect of the chaotic 15 rounds of voting for speakership this week: More bipartisan mingling on the House floor.
"I had more debate this week in Congress — more meaningful debate — more intermingling," Burchett told CNN's Jim Acosta Saturday, saying he was chatting with everyone from the prominent progressive lawmakers known as The Squad to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"It gave us time to interact," Burchett continued. "We actually interacted more this week than we have in the last four years. And if anything, that relationship-building is where it was at."
Burchett said he thought "a lot of those barriers dissolved, at least a little bit."
"Maybe that's what we need to get to where we're at," Burchett told Acosta.
President Joe Biden spoke with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to congratulate him on winning the gavel in a call Saturday afternoon, according to the White House.
The president also released a statement in the early hours of Saturday after McCarthy was elected House speaker in the 15th round of voting.
“Jill and I congratulate Kevin McCarthy on his election as Speaker of the House. As I said after the midterms, I am prepared to work with Republicans when I can and voters made clear that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well. Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin," Biden wrote in the statement.
A Superman comic is one of several sentimental items that will be underneath the Constitution when Rep. Robert Garcia, a California Democrat, takes his ceremonial oath.
But this isn't just any comic — the copy of “Superman” #1 is an exceptionally rare comic, released in 1939, and belongs to the Library of Congress.
Garcia was officially sworn into office early Saturday morning alongside other House members. It is presently unclear when the ceremonial swearing in, at which Garcia will use the comic, will take place.
The comic will be joined by a photo of Garcia’s parents, who died of Covid-19, and his citizenship certificate, according to a Thursday tweet from Garcia.
In a statement emailed to CNN, Garcia said that comics are especially significant to him because they helped him learn English after coming to the US from Peru.
“I came to America at the age of 5 as a Spanish-speaker,” he said via email. “As a kid, I would pick up comics at old thrift shops and pharmacies and that’s how I learned to read and write in English.”
Superman is a poignant symbol for Garcia’s values, he said. The superhero represents “truth and justice, an immigrant that was different, was raised by good people that welcomed them,” he added in his statement. “If you look at Superman values, and caucus values, it’s about justice, it’s about honesty, it’s doing the right thing, standing up for people that need support.”
With Vermont Rep. Becca Balint being sworn into the House early Saturday, all 50 US states have now sent women to Congress.
“I want all people to feel like they can have a place in government,” the Democrat told CNN in November, prior to winning an open-seat race for Vermont’s at-large district. “If my breaking these glass ceilings enables people to see themselves in those roles, that is really exciting to me.”
Along with being Vermont’s first female member of Congress, Balint is also the first out LGBTQ person elected to Washington from the Green Mountain State.
Vermont was left as the only state in the union never to have sent a woman to Congress after Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate in 2018. But rather than attributing that unwelcome distinction to any anti-female bias, Garrison Nelson, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Vermont, told CNN last year, “It’s a case of longevity that has prevented women from getting opportunities to serve in the Congress.”
“Vermont has a tradition of keeping people in office for extended periods of time … so the opportunities for running are relatively slim,” Nelson said.
The state’s at-large House seat became vacant after Democratic incumbent Peter Welch — who was first elected in 2006 — decided on an ultimately successful Senate run to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who was himself first elected in 1974.
Balint has joined the House Progressive Caucus, where she will serve as vice chair for new members. She previously told CNN that her congressional priorities will include taking action to address the housing crisis and finding more resources for mental health, especially in her home state. But “first and foremost” on her list, she said, is “the health of our democracy.”
Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark assumed her role as House minority whip in the early hours of Saturday morning, becoming the highest-ranking Democratic woman in the chamber.
Clark is only the second woman after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve in one of the top two party leadership positions in Congress. Pelosi’s stint as speaker ended earlier this month.
“I ran for Congress to be a voice for women, families, and working people,” Clark tweeted in November following her election as the No. 2 House Democrat. “When I’m at the table, so are you.”
“I am humbled and honored to serve the American people as the @HouseDemocrats Whip for the 118th Congress,” added Clark, who ran unopposed.
Clark joins a House Democratic leadership team that includes Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, who said in a statement that Clark’s “voice as Whip will be essential as our Caucus fights back against Republican extremism and delivers a legislative agenda that will help us take back the House in 2024.”
Clark served as assistant speaker in the previous Congress, then the party’s No. 4 position in the House. She first joined leadership in 2019 as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
A firm supporter of President Joe Biden’s agenda, Clark is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. She is an advocate of gun reform, Medicare for All and raising the federal minimum wage. In 2016, Clark joined then-Georgia Rep. John Lewis and others in staging a sit-in on the House floor to protest the lack of votes on gun control legislation.
She was among several Democratic congresswomen arrested by US Capitol Police in July during an abortion rights protest in front of the Supreme Court.
“The extremist Republicans are determined to take us back in time and take away our rights. They can arrest me, but we won’t allow them to arrest freedom,” she tweeted.
Clark’s ascension to a top House leadership position comes less than 10 years after she entered Congress representing Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District, a Democratic stronghold outside Boston. She won a special election in 2013 to succeed Democrat Ed Markey, following his election to the Senate, and has comfortably won reelection ever since.
Prior to entering Congress, Clark served in the Massachusetts state House and Senate. She also worked in the state attorney general’s office as a policy director and served on the Melrose School Committee.
The Texas Republican said that while "of course" lawmakers wanted to be sworn in on January 3, "you saw democracy play out over the last week and come to consensus in the wee hours of the morning, and now we're ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work."
"This is not a dictatorship where one person gets to decide everything for the entire conference. ... So we saw it play out just as it should," De La Cruz told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday.
"This shows us that each individual voice is important, and every vote is important. So as a representative of my community, even being a freshman, we have a powerful voice when it comes to legislation and bills that are coming across the table and in front of Congress. And I think that just goes to show that it doesn't matter if you are a freshman or a vet ... our voice and our vote counts. And I think you saw the power of that yesterday and throughout the week where we had five freshmen who were standing against McCarthy, but eventually came over. So what we're going to see is the power of our vote in the [118th Congress]," she added.
The 118th Congress features a record-setting number of women at 149. Overall, women of color will also break a record for their representation this year -- within the House alone, there will be a record number of both Latinas and Black women serving.
De La Cruz is the first Republican and first woman to represent Texas' 15th District.
"I am just so honored to represent my community," she said.
Now that a House speaker has been selected following a days-long stalemate and members have finally been sworn in, the chamber can look toward picking back up business and organizing GOP-led committees.
Every new Congress must pass a new set of House rules, and doing so will be the top of the 118th Congress’ to-do list when the House reconvenes Monday.
With House Republicans’ majority, comes a newfound power to set the agenda — investigative and legislative.
Legislative agenda: House Republicans will be limited in their ability to pass bills through Congress with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House — where the president can exercise veto power over legislation. Still, House Republicans will be able to push messaging bills that highlight their agenda.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with CNN ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy outlined his plans for power.
Those plans include:
- Tackling inflation
- Rising crime and border security
- He also left the door open to launching eventual impeachment proceedings, which some of his members have already begun to call for
There will also be some must-pass policy issues — like funding the government — that will test the ability of Republicans and Democrats to work together.
Read more about what Republicans plan to do with their new House majority here.
Hakeem Jeffries made history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress, addressing the 118th Congress for the first time in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“As John Lewis would sometimes remind us on this floor, we may have come over on different ships but we’re all in the same boat now,” the New York Democrat said, referencing the late civil rights legend and longtime congressman.
“We are White. We are Black. We are Latino. We are Asian. We are Native American. We are Christian. We are Jewish. We are Muslim. We are Hindu. We are religious. We are secular. We are gay. We are straight. We are young. We are older. We are women. We are men. We are citizens. We are dreamers,” he continued. “Out of many we are one. That’s what makes America a great country. And no matter what kind of haters are trying to divide us, we’re not going to let anyone take that away from us. Not now. Not ever.”
Jeffries’ position was made official after the conclusion of a prolonged floor fight that culminated in Republican Kevin McCarthy becoming House speaker. While Republican quarrels prevented the election of a new speaker for days, ultimately going to 15 rounds of voting, Democrats displayed unwavering support for Jeffries, who consistently earned votes from all 212 members of his caucus as Republicans split their votes among multiple lawmakers.
Jeffries now leads the minority party in the House, succeeding California's Nancy Pelosi, who served as speaker in the prior session of Congress when Democrats held the majority. In addition to being the first Black lawmaker to attain such a position, Jeffries is also the first person elected to lead House Democrats to be born after the end of World War II.