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McCarthy Faces Division as US House Convenes

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, gestures towards the newly installed nameplate at his office after he was sworn in as speaker of the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 7, 2023.

After a four-day battle with fellow Republicans, California Representative Kevin McCarthy was on Saturday elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Now, McCarthy faces the challenge of moving forward with a divided party.

McCarthy was forced to make concessions to far-right Republicans in order to win the speakership, including allowing a single lawmaker to call for a vote to oust the speaker and cuts to government spending.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said he was optimistic about having the votes to pass the rules package amid doubts. He told CNN "we're gonna get that done and start bringing up some bills, then tackle the problems this country is facing."

McCarthy said the first bill to be tabled before the floor would be to repeal tens of billions of dollars in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made available under the Inflation Reduction Act passed by the previous Congress.

"When we come back our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents. We believe government should be to help you (referring to the American people), and not go after you," McCarthy said after his win.

The Treasury Department has refuted the claim made by some Republicans.

The newly elected speaker said the House will pass bills to fix national challenges from "wide open southern borders to American last energy policies to woke indoctrinations in our schools."

McCarthy also vowed to set up committees to probe economic competition with China, the dramatic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of coronavirus as well as what he called "the weaponization of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)."

New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who was repeatedly affirmed by all 212 House Democrats during last week's deadlock, became the first Black man to lead a major party in Congress.

"In America, our diversity is a strength it is not a weakness. An economic strength, a competitive strength and cultural strength," Jeffries said.

Jeffries said he aims to work across the aisle with McCarthy but said Democrats will "never compromise our principles."