After 15 rounds of voting and four days of wrestling and wrangling, Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives on Jan. 7.
The last time the election of a speaker required multiple ballots was in 1855. In 2023, however, the proceedings were relatively tame in comparison. In the pre-Civil War atmosphere of 1855, it took 133 votes over two months to pick a speaker.
Kevin McCarthy is a patient man and his patience paid off. Although the situations are vastly different, it is interesting to note that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also a patient man. It took him five tries over close to four years, but he was finally decisively reelected on Nov. 1, 2022. Both McCarthy and Netanyahu had to work with diverse allies. They both underwent an arduous and grueling struggle to get to their respective positions. Both of them persevered and succeeded.
In both cases, it was worth the wait.
Speaker McCarthy was the keynote speaker at a National Council of Young Israel dinner when I was vice president of the organization. He was recently featured via video hookup at a Zionist Organization of America dinner. He is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
One of McCarthy’s first acts as speaker was to remove Ilhan Omar from the all-important House Foreign Affairs Committee. Omar has long spewed antisemitism and lies about the State of Israel. She should never have been on the committee in the first place.
McCarthy has his work cut out for him. In his own words, “Moving forward, House Republicans will keep our commitment to advance legislation that supports law enforcement, secures our southern border by returning to commonsense policies that respect the rule of law, makes America energy independent and empowers parents through a Parent’s Bill of Rights.”
Just as Netanyahu had a close relationship with Speaker John Boehner from 2011-2015, he has a solid relationship with McCarthy. This bodes well for America and Israel. Although both had a difficult journey to the top, they kept their eyes on the prize and both are worth the wait.
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.