After Democrats maintained their majority in the Senate in the surprisingly close US midterm elections, the Republicans will gain back control of the House of Representatives by a slim margin, ushering in a new era of split government in Washington.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday night that the Republicans will win the necessary 218 seats to take control of the House, the lower chamber of Congress, more than a week after tens of millions of people went to the polls to cast their ballots in the midterm elections.
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Seven House elections were still too close to call, therefore it was still uncertain how large the majority would be. However, it was on track to be much smaller than anticipated, which weakens the Republican hand, exposes stark splits within the party, and raises questions about whether Kevin McCarthy will be elected speaker of the House.
By a margin of 188 to 31 votes, McCarthy prevailed earlier this week in a secret ballot to become his party’s choice for Speaker. McCarthy will have a difficult path ahead of him come January, when he would require backing from at least 218 MPs to win the presidency, according to the defections of right-wing lawmakers loyal to the former president Donald Trump.
This year, @HouseDemocrats defied expectations with an excellent performance: running their races with courage, optimism and determination.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 17, 2022
In a statement, President Joe Biden congratulated McCarthy on the victory of the Republicans in the House and said he was “ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families.”
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers privately and publicly pushed Trump to step aside after some of his hand-picked candidates lost their campaigns in last week’s midterm elections. Nevertheless, Trump officially announced on Tuesday night that he would run for president a third time.
The Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who said on Wednesday that “it is time for the Republican party to turn to a new generation of leaders” and “I want to support one of them in the presidential primary,” is among the high-profile donors who have left the former president’s campaign.
In the past, midterm elections have acted as a test of the party in power, and many Democrats had prepared for painful defeats in the run-up to election day, particularly in the House.
However, Biden’s party performed better than anticipated in House and Senate contests across the nation, holding onto a number of significant seats. Democrats were able to halt their losses in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, but they suffered significant defeats in Florida and New York, where the Republicans managed to flip a total of seven House seats.
Speaking with @BBC, @CWRU_Law‘s Justin Buchler explained previous midterm election results may have created a “default” and “baseline” expectation that the Republican victory would be greater than it was. Read more: https://t.co/SrUzaAAd88
— Case Western Reserve (@cwru) November 15, 2022
After Biden’s party narrowly won elections in Nevada and Arizona over the weekend, it became evident that Democrats would also keep control of the Senate, the higher body of Congress. The extent of their precariously narrow majority in the upper house will be decided next month in a Georgia run-off election between Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democratic senator Raphael Warnock.
On Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning, Senate Republicans held their own leadership elections. Mitch McConnell, the longtime Republican leader in the upper chamber, was challenged by Rick Scott, who headed the GOP campaign for the midterm elections, in a contest that further exposed the divisions and recriminations among Republican lawmakers. Scott, who was backed by Trump and some right-wing senators, only received 10 votes, while McConnell comfortably won re-election with 37 votes.
Even while Democrats will keep the Senate and the Republican majority in the House will be smaller than anticipated, the lower chamber’s changing of the guard will hurt Biden’s presidency during the following two years. GOP leaders have hinted that they may use the debt ceiling as leverage to advance their own political objectives, specifically the reduction of government expenditure.
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Republicans have also said they’ll end investigations led by Democrats, such as the one looking into Trump’s involvement in the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and start their own probes into everything from the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic to the business dealings of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
The American people expect us to get things done for them, Biden said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that he was willing to work with Republicans over the next two years of his presidency.
In the fiercely contested Los Angeles mayoral race, the Associated Press also pronounced Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass the victor on Wednesday. Rich real estate entrepreneur Rick Caruso, a former Republican who now supports the Democratic party, was her opponent. In a race that exposed long-simmering concerns about crime and homelessness in the southern California city, he spent about $100 million on his campaign.
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