NASHVILLE -- Conservative hardliners in Tennessee and Georgia were central to the drama in the 118th Congress during its first week, during which Republican leader Kevin McCarthy struggled to win their votes to name him speaker of the House.
The 15th and final vote came shortly after midnight after a four-day struggle for McCarthy, who had been the House GOP leader.
Among the ultra-conservatives finally voting for McCarthy on Friday were Republicans Andy Ogles of Columbia, Tennessee, a freshman and former Maury County mayor and one-time head of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee, and Andrew Clyde, a second-term Gainesville, Georgia, businessman.
Other Tennessee and Georgia Republican congressmen, among them U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tennessee, had backed McCarthy all along.
"After many good, honest conservations about how best to return responsible conservative government to Congress, I am pleased that we could come together to elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House," Fleischmann said in a statement. "I believe that because of the discussions and debates over the last four days, our Conference can come together more united to enact good conservative policies that America needs and deserves."
Following the vote, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Rome, Georgia, congresswoman who staunchly backed McCarthy throughout the battle as the group of her fellow Freedom Caucus members fought for concessions from McCarthy, tweeted a photo of herself and McCarthy beaming.
"Congratulations, Mr. Speaker!" she wrote.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, was less impressed.
"It took Republicans five days and 15 votes to deliver a Speaker. Pretty shabby," Cohen tweeted.
The tally on the 15th roll call vote for speaker was 216 for McCarthy and 212 for Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York.
Six GOP members, including Gaetz and Boebert, simply voted present. That allowed McCarthy to win the required majority despite not getting 218 votes. All 212 Democrats voted for Jeffries.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, a Georgia Democrat, later tweeted a photo of herself standing in front of her congressional office door:
"After a week of Republican chaos, I've FINALLY been sworn in for my second term representing the #FightingFifth and I'm ready to get to work For The People," she stated.
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