The moment came several days late and in the bleary-eyed pitch-dark a.m. hours of the weekend, but Oregon’s six U.S. House members — including three first-timers — finally got a chance to be officially sworn-in early Saturday.
In an early-Saturday email, newly-seat U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Happy Valley, said she was just happy that it had finally come to a conclusion.
“Although it took longer than expected, I’m glad my colleagues were able to reach a consensus, and I’m excited to begin delivering on the promises we made to the American people,” Chavez-DeRemer said.
It was a historically long wait for Chavez-DeRemer, one of the 435 members of the U.S. House elected to office in November. For the first time in more than 100 years, a group of Republican members of the conservative Freedom Caucus withheld the final votes needed to name U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as the speaker of the House.
Republicans had eked out a 222-212 majority in the November election, taking back control of the U.S. House for the first time since they lost power in the 2018 election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who had led the thin Democratic majority for four years, gave up the gavel. McCarthy, the House minority leader, was expected to be chosen to lead the chamber.
But the narrow victory margin was a disappointment for conservative Republicans, who used the small majority to leverage their coalition into stopping McCarthy from reaching the 218 votes needed to be named as presiding officer of the chamber.
The House endured 14 votes this week, as those elected in November could vote for speaker, but nothing else until they were sworn into office by the new speaker under new House rules.
It was the first time since 1923 that the House required more than one round of voting to select a speaker. Without a speaker, the House could not establish rules for the session or swear in the members elected in November.
Among the quirks was an inability of the House to recess because of a lack of rules. That meant House members remained on the floor to argue and cajole under the eye of the C-Span live television broadcast.
The line-up included three first-term lawmakers from Oregon: Chavez-DeRemer, Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Springfield, and Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego.They joined returning incumbents Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, Rep. Earl Blumenaur, D-Portland, and Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario.
The swearing-in marked the final step that saw portions of the state come under new representatives of congressional districts drawn for the 2022 election.