President Biden spoke by phone with Kevin McCarthy on Saturday to congratulate the newly elected House Speaker who clinched his party’s vote after 15 ballots that spanned days of tense negotiations with a group of ultra-conservative holdouts.
Mr. Biden placed the call from Delaware where he is spending the weekend before making his first trip to the U.S. southern border as president on Sunday.
The White House provided no further details about the call.
In a statement after Mr. McCarthy won the speakership in a 216 to 212 just passed midnight on Saturday, Mr. Biden congratulated the California Republican and offered his pledge to reach across the aisle.
“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,” Mr. Biden said. “Now that the leadership of the House of Representatives has been decided it is time for that process to begin.”
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.”
Other congratulatory messages flooded in after the dramatic final vote.
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.
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.
But not all Democrats were enthused.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer had few kinds words to offer his House counterpart, before launching into an attack on Mr. McCarthy and House Republicans.
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.”