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Before the House can vote on bills, it must OK rules for how the chamber operates

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

After 15 ballots and four days of drama, Kevin McCarthy secured enough votes to serve as speaker of the House.

DWANE BROWN, HOST:

The California Republican spoke about his priorities leading the House amid a politically divided government.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEVIN MCCARTHY: Our system is built on checks and balances. It's time for us to be a check and provide some balance to the president's policies.

(APPLAUSE)

FADEL: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us to preview what's ahead in Congress. Good morning, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So before the House can vote on any bills, it has to approve rules for how the chamber operates, right? Is that a done deal?

WALSH: It could run into some problems tonight. In exchange for getting those votes from the hard-right faction, McCarthy agreed to a slew of rules changes. Some of them are widely supported by House Republicans, things like votes on the floor and amendments, votes on single-issue bills instead of wrapping them into - a bunch of things into one massive package, giving 72 hours to read bills before votes. We should also note, this rules package would gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, which screens potential rules violations, at a time when New York GOP Congressman George Santos admitted he fabricated much of his record and is facing federal investigation for potential campaign finance issues. These rules also allow just one lawmaker to offer a resolution to oust the speaker, so there's going to be this constant threat hanging over McCarthy's speakership.

FADEL: Are moderate Republicans going along with these changes?

WALSH: Not all of them. Texas Republican Tony Gonzales yesterday said he's a no because he has concerns about the impact the vows to balance the budget within 10 years and slash discretionary spending are going to have on the Pentagon. South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace, a moderate, supports rules changes but said on CBS yesterday she's on the fence for voting for them because she wants details about the other deals that were cut in exchange for votes.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

NANCY MACE: And we don't know what they got or didn't get. We haven't seen it. We don't have any idea what promises were made or what gentlemen's handshakes were made. We just have no idea at this point. And it does give me quite a bit of heartburn because that's not what we ran on.

WALSH: We should note, McCarthy just has a four-seat majority, so he can't afford more than a few defections.

FADEL: So what's the first thing House Republicans are planning to do if they can get past this step?

WALSH: The first bill the House of Representatives is going to vote on will be to roll back the increase to the Internal Revenue Service that was part of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Democrats over the summer. This was a top Republican campaign promise to get rid of new IRS agents. But the goal of giving money to the IRS was to boost an agency that has lost staff and has really struggled to respond to problems with tax returns that many Americans have been dealing with. So Democrats wanted to increase staffing. Of course, this bill isn't going to go anywhere in the Senate that's controlled by Democrats.

FADEL: NPR's Deirdre Walsh, thank you.

WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.