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Divisions remain among members of the House of Representatives

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The House of Representatives voted last night not to expel Republican Representative George Santos. Members of his own party from his home state of New York had filed a motion to kick him out after federal prosecutors added more fraud charges to his rap sheet. Still, the move to expel him, followed by the decision to reject the attempt, reveals simmering frustrations among Republicans. NPR's Eric McDaniel has been following all of it. All right, so, Eric, the House voted down to expel Santos, and they decided not to censure another member. That was Democrat Rashida Tlaib. I mean, it sounds like everyone's getting along in the House.

ERIC MCDANIEL, BYLINE: I'm not so sure that's exactly right. But with this Santos stuff, there's a lot more going on here than just the tensions among House Republicans, right? Even many of the members who voted against removing Santos, including a big number of Democrats, probably might not want him as a colleague, but they do want to let the legal process and their own congressional ethics process play out. The New York Republicans - these are swing-district folks who put the resolution forward - wanted to show that they're stewards of good government after the chaos of the past few weeks and the speaker fight. Now, they and other House Republicans seem to want to get back to focusing on legislating.

MARTÍNEZ: Oh, OK. So are they ready to do that?

MCDANIEL: Well, the folks I've talked to are happy to be back debating the substance of things rather than just trying to find a leader. And, credit where credit is due, House Republicans were unanimous last night in funding Congress's own budget. But things only get thornier going forward, right? They've got to compromise not just with each other, which is no small task, as we've seen, but also with the Senate, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, if they want to pass, say, aid to Israel.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, so beyond the George Santos votes, where else is this tension playing out?

MCDANIEL: Well, like you mentioned, they voted to table a motion last night by Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene that would have published one of punished one of her Democratic colleagues. And when that vote was over, Greene went on social media to name and shame 20-some of her Republican colleagues who didn't support her push. So I'm not going to tell you that no one is frustrated in the House caucus right now, but other folks I talked to are very much in wait-and-see mode. Here's what Anthony D'Esposito, a New York Republican, told me.

ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO: At least on the surface, it seems like everyone's getting along, so yeah.

MCDANIEL: At least on the surface. He led the charge to try and remove George Santos, but even he's ready to move past internal Republican fights. So the tensions are there, yeah, but like the congressman said, for now, they remain largely below the surface.

MARTÍNEZ: Below the surface. So how quickly could they go above the surface?

MCDANIEL: Well, they're due to vote on this Israel aid package sometime this week. And as Speaker Mike Johnson and the House drew it up, that's a standalone bill. So that puts them in direct confrontation with Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate. That would be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both of whom want to see a combined aid bill. That means money for the war in Ukraine, money for Taiwan and the South Pacific, and even money for the U.S.-Mexico border. They're going to have to decide among themselves, House Republicans, whether to compromise with each other, figure out how to iron out things between the absolutists in the House Freedom Caucus and the other kind of more pragmatic, lifelong institutional members - whether they're going to compromise with each other or give in to those hard-liners who would rather see nothing passed than to make a deal. Some of the same folks who were at the heart of ousting the last speaker, Kevin McCarthy - we'll see them probably right at the center of this fight, too.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's NPR congressional reporter Eric McDaniel. Eric, thanks for keeping up on this.

MCDANIEL: Thanks, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Eric McDaniel edits the NPR Politics Podcast. He joined the program ahead of its 2019 relaunch as a daily podcast.