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Biden congratulates McCarthy, says time has come to begin working across the aisle

President Biden congratulated House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on his election to the position Saturday, saying the country’s leaders must work across the political aisle in the new divided government to prioritize Americans’ needs. 

“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,” Biden said in a statement

“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,” he continued. 

McCarthy was elected Speaker early Saturday morning after four days of voting on 15 ballots. He received 216 votes on the final ballot, while House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) received 212 votes and six House members voted present. 

McCarthy had the backing of a vast majority of the Republican conference from the first ballot, but roughly 20 hard-line GOP members withheld their support for him during the election, denying him victory. He and his allies remained in negotiations throughout the four days with the members to offer concessions in terms of House rules and policy plans for the upcoming session. 

McCarthy was ultimately able to secure the votes of three-quarters of the Republicans who previously opposed him by the final ballot, and the remaining six abstained, not standing in the way of him winning the election. 

This was the first time that a Speaker vote went to multiple ballots in a century and the longest contest for the Speakership since before the Civil War. 

Biden said his plan to build the economy “from the bottom up and the middle out” is working and leaders must continue that economic progress instead of setting it back. 

The last jobs report of 2022 showed that the U.S. added 223,000 jobs in December, dropping the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent. That figure equals the rate in February 2020, before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic took effect. 

Biden also said lawmakers must protect Medicare and Social Security and defend national security instead of cutting funding. 

“These are some of the choices before us,” he said. “As the last two years show, we can do profound things for the country when we do them together.”

Biden noted his trip to Kentucky with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday to discuss his bipartisan infrastructure law as an example of what can be accomplished through collaboration.

Source: The Hill

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