The Republican leader in the US House of Representatives delivered a record-breaking eight-hour speech in order to hold up President Joe Biden’s new domestic policy bill.
With debate speeches in the US typically constrained to one minute, Kevin McCarthy used a party leaders’ prerogative to speak uninterrupted for more than eight hours from Thursday night into Friday morning.
Mr McCarthy’s tactic, known as filibustering, beat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s previous record at 5.10 a.m.
Embarking on the divisive speech overnight, he criticised what he perceived to be Mr Biden‘s reckless overspending, reflected on inflation, immigration, his childhood in California, and even the Lincoln presidency.
Democrats were keen to bookend the package of social services and climate change programs, setting aside internecine differences to deliver on the president’s domestic priorities.
They booed Mr McCarthy and tweeted their displeasure while Republicans cheered him on.
Representative Greg Pence, the brother of former vice president Mike Pence, said he “loved it,” and that this was “a historical moment for Kevin, for sure”.
However, Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the intelligence committee, tweeted: “If you took the worst orator in the world/Gave him the worst speech in the world/And made him read it for the longest time in the world/That would be a lot like listening to Kevin McCarthy tonight. Except, probably better.”
The record-breaking speech brought a tense week of American politics to an end, with Mr Biden signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, and the House censuring Republican representative Paul Gosar for posting a graphic video depicting violence against fellow elected officials.
With looming midterm elections looking problematic for the Democrats, Republicans are hopeful they may take control of the House of Representatives.
Some in Washington were suggesting that Thursday night’s performance was Mr McCarthy’s audition for the role of Speaker, as an appeal to his Republican colleagues who previously denied him the job.
But there may be others the Republican leader is trying to impress.
This week, Mr McCarthy claimed he received a phone call from former president Donald Trump, a man with whom he has not always seen eye-to-eye, despite him having been among the first in Congress to support Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The House was set to return after dawn on Friday to again try to pass Mr Biden’s bill, before sending it to the Senate.