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Shelter Island Reporter Letter to the Editor from Congressman Nick LaLota

A vote for speaker

To the Editor:

In November, after Republicans won a House majority, 222 Republican members-elect of the 118th Congress like me had an open, healthy debate about who would serve as the nation’s next speaker.

While House Republicans of the previous Congress unanimously elected Kevin McCarthy to serve as their leader, it was apparent that about 15 re-elected Republicans and five freshman Republicans had reservations. The criticism was that he was too much of a Washington insider and not conservative enough.

Yet, on the days leading up to the first vote, it became clear to the overwhelming majority of my colleagues, and me, that only the election of McCarthy and a more conservative rules package that included (1) an ability for just one member to call to depose the speaker; (2) a path to balanced budgets; and (3) other conservative priorities, could garner the requisite number of votes.

After 13 failed votes and more than 96 hours, the House convened at 10 p.m. on Friday for a 14th vote. With much of the nation watching, that vote failed, too.

Republican leadership then called for a motion to adjourn — to take the weekend off.

I struggled to agree with my party to vote “yes.” I sought counsel from fellow New Yorkers, and we (Representatives Garbarino, Malliotakis and D’Esposito) agreed we owed it to our constituents and America to vote “no” and stay in Washington to figure out this mess.

With only 15 minutes to vote on the motion, I’m pleased that Republican leaders heard our reasoning. Within minutes they changed the Republican conference’s preferred position to “no” and rushed to advise other Republican members to join in defeating the motion.

About 70 Republicans changed their votes to “no” — forcing a 15th vote.

Shortly thereafter, my colleagues and I voted a final time for speaker —  Kevin McCarthy.

Under new rules and this new leadership, House Republicans will deliver on our “Commitment to America:” an economy that is strong, a nation that is safe, a future that is built on freedom, and a government that is accountable.

As an 11-year Navy man, someone who served in local government for about as long, and a lifelong Republican, I campaigned on being a leader of a more conservative and functional government.

That’s why I was especially proud to be part of a New York team that rallied others to work through the weekend to elect a speaker.

With these party politics behind us, it’s time to get to work.

NICK LALOTA, U.S. Representative, 1st District