BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The U.S. House of Representatives has chosen its 56th Speaker, and the Central Valley’s own Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao have thrown in their votes for the new leader.
Remember, this is the third week since Bakersfield Congressman and former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s ouster. It’s also the third week of the House being leaderless, thus being unable to pass any legislation, such as aid for Israel.
While a spokesperson for McCarthy said he was unavailable for an interview, McCarthy did tweet out earlier in the day his “full support” for the new Speaker, Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
As of Wednesday morning, even before the vote, McCarthy’s nameplate was no longer hanging above the Speaker’s office.
Rep. David Valadao — who represents California’s 21st Congressional District, which includes east Bakersfield — told 17 News Wednesday’s successful vote is a step forward, and that he’s eager for the House to get back to work.
Still a supporter of McCarthy one day returning to the speakership, Valadao has repeatedly expressed frustration over the congressional standstill and McCarthy’s ouster. He again blamed the eight Republicans and 208 Democrats who voted in favor of removing McCarthy as Speaker.
“I’m still frustrated we’re in this situation,” Rep. Valadao said. “We should’ve never been in this situation… We knew we weren’t gonna get any help from across the aisle.”
And that was true Wednesday afternoon — Speaker Johnson won the title through a unanimous Republican vote (220, to be exact). All Democrats who were present for the vote chose their party’s nominee, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
Valadao said the focus was electing a leader as soon as possible.
17’s Jenny Huh asked Valadao what happened behind the GOP’s multiple closed-door meetings that led to the unity on the House floor Wednesday. All 220 Republicans present for the roll call vote voted for Mike Johnson.
Valadao explained Speaker Johnson’s being a relatively new face likely worked in his favor, with there being minimal internal opposition against him.
The Hanford lawmaker admitted he too did not know Johnson very well, but said the party will learn as it goes.
On Johnson being a 2020 election denier, Valadao said, “Ultimately, no one in this conference was going to be perfect for everyone… There’s always gonna be issues I disagree with, but ultimately, we needed to put someone in the Speaker’s chair and move forward and start to govern.”
Valadao also noted, “…To worry about things that happened three years ago, doesn’t help the people that I was elected to represent.”
Top of mind for him, Valadao said, now that the House can act on legislation once more include preventing a government shutdown, is focusing on the southern border and lowering the price of energy.
“And my reality is right now, I have to deliver for the people I’m elected by,” Valadao said. “Making sure we’re keeping our government open, our agencies open, making sure the [agriculture] department is taking care of the people who were hurt during the winter storms and even summer storms, making sure our energy policies are coming into place so we can help lower the price of energy for everyday Americans…”
The House GOP currently has a 5-seat majority over Democrats.
Valadao stated because Johnson is in a tight majority as Speaker, there’ll be a “tight leash” on future policy disagreements, and he won’t “have free will to do whatever [he wants]. It really didn’t matter who [the new Speaker] was, because it’s such a small majority.”
On potential policy disagreements with Johnson, Valadao emphasized a somewhat grim reminder, “It only takes five votes to change the direction of the place.”
And it looks like the House is getting right to work, voting earlier to stand with Israel and discussing a budget for government funding on energy and water resources, which Valadao pointed out, has a direct impact on the Central Valley.