Posted 71 days ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats clinched two more years of controlling the House but with a potentially razor-thin majority, a bittersweet finale to last week’s elections that has left them divided and with scant margin for error for advancing their agenda.
The party on Tuesday nailed down at least 218 seats, according to The Associated Press, and could win a few others when more votes are counted. While that assures command of the 435-member chamber, blindsided Democrats were all but certain to see their current 232-seat majority shrink after an unforeseen surge of Republican voters transformed expected gains of perhaps 15 seats into losses potentially approaching that amount.
“We have the gavel, we have the gavel,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who seems all but certain to continue in that role. While she bemoaned Democrats’ losses in districts where GOP votes proved “almost insurmountable,” she told reporters last week, “We’ve lost some battles but we’ve won the war.”
By retaining the House, Democrats will control the chamber for four consecutive years for only the second time since 1995, when Republicans ended 40 years of Democratic dominance.
Yet though Joe Biden won the presidential election, there was a strong chance Republicans would keep Senate control. That would force Democrats to scale back their dreams of sweeping health care, infrastructure and other initiatives, instead needing compromises with the GOP.
As the bad news sank in, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., who led House Democrats’ campaign committee, announced Monday she wouldn’t seek another term leading that organization. Democrats said privately she would have lost had she again sought the post, for which the party’s lawmakers vote.
Republicans have been heartened by the House results, which many believe position them for a strong run for the majority in the 2022 elections. They also bolstered their distressingly low number of women representatives from 13 to at least 26, a record for the GOP, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, and were adding new ethnic minority lawmakers as well.
“The Republican coalition is bigger, more diverse, more energetic than ever before,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the day after the election.
Democrats went into Election Day with a 232-197 House advantage, plus an independent and five open seats. With some races remaining undecided, it was possible that in the new Congress that convenes in January they’ll have the smallest majority since Republicans had just 221 seats two decades ago.
Democrats secured the majority after The Associated Press declared three winners late Tuesday: incumbents Kim Schrier in Washington, Tom O’Halleran in Arizona and Jimmy Gomez in California.
A tight majority could cause headaches for Pelosi, empowering any determined group of lawmakers to pressure her on what bills should be considered or look like. But sometimes, a slender margin can help unify a party because its members know they must stick together to achieve anything.
Democratic moderates and progressives clash periodically, and while the moderates are more numerous, the progressives’ ranks include influential social media stars like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N. Y.
Underscoring that tension, House Democrats vented during a three-hour conference call last week in which both factions bla... (Read more)