World News

GOP Inches Toward House Control as Senate Remains a Toss-Up

Highly anticipated results from tight races dictating control of Congress inched closer on Friday, as officials tallied outstanding votes in a number of states after an Election Day that fell flat for Republicans expecting decisive victories.

The picture is far from what analysts predicted just days ago, when they appeared to have underestimated Democratic strength going into a consequential election that is showing much slimmer margins than Republicans had hoped. Republicans could still win majorities in both chambers – but the 2022 midterms with all their potential will likely still be felt as a GOP loss.

Fewer than 30 House seats remained too close to call on Friday afternoon, with Republicans just seven seats away from securing a majority – albeit a narrow one. To the surprise of many, Democrats could still see a narrow path to victory in the House as of Friday afternoon as well, though their chances at retaining control of the lower chamber appear much slimmer.

The remaining seats are a smattering of races mostly in Western states like Nevada, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, with a few remaining seats in places like New York, Maine and Alaska. In some states, counting the remaining results could take days.

On the Senate side, all eyes are on Nevada, Arizona and – next month – Georgia, where Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock is headed to a runoff election due to neither candidate having secured an outright majority.

Republicans must win two of the three remaining seats to achieve a majority in the upper chamber, with 49 seats called for the GOP at present. But Democrats, who had 48 seats as of Friday afternoon, could also win the majority by taking two of those seats. With a 50-50 split in the Senate, as has been the case for the last two years, the tie-breaking vote would go to Vice President Kamala Harris, preserving for Democrats the narrowest of majorities in the upper chamber.

Political Cartoons

Accordingly, Senate control could be decided in a matter of days, if either party wins both Arizona and Nevada. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona led Blake Masters in the Grand Canyon State on Friday afternoon, while Republican Adam Laxalt led Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro in Nevada. The delay in that state is largely due to rules that give absentee voters until Saturday to return ballots as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

Should each party win only one of the two states, Georgia’s runoff will decide control of the chamber, just as it did in 2020.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are expected to return on Monday for a lame-duck session that may take on an air of uncertainty if control of either chamber remains up in the air.

Democrats were anticipating a mad lame-duck dash to get a number of legislative priorities passed before Republicans took control of at least the House, if not both chambers. But if Democrats hang on to one or the other, they may be free to ride out the coming weeks with far less urgency.

Among those priorities were getting more of President Joe Biden’s nominees confirmed in the Senate, enshrining protections for same-sex marriage, passing the Electoral Count Act and Sen. Joe Manchin’s energy-permitting reform bill, putting together a massive spending bill and perhaps even voting to raise the debt ceiling or approving more funding for Ukraine, both of which Democrats have feared could see setbacks in a GOP-controlled Congress.

Lawmakers’ return next week is also expected to feature a Republican House leadership election, in which lawmakers have committed to moving forward with even without their majority guaranteed.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy launched his bid for speaker on Wednesday, after declaring the night before that his supporters would see their majority come to fruition by morning. But his road to the speakership has become increasingly more difficult as the size of Republicans’ majority has appeared to dwindle.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana likewise announced a bid for House majority leader, while Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York is seeking reelection as conference chair.

A closer-than-expected battle for the House has also thrown Democratic leadership into question. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been in the House for 35 years and served as the top Democrat for two decades, had remained tight-lipped about her plans if Republicans take the chamber. In an interview with CNN that aired on Monday, the first since her husband was attacked at the couple’s San Francisco home, the 82-year-old noted that her decision about whether to retire “will be affected” by the incident. But if Democrats retain the House, Pelosi may just stick around for another two years.

A GOP majority in the House may usher in a new group of Democratic leaders, the chamber being currently helmed by three octogenarians, who may see the present moment as an opportunity to welcome a younger generation, perhaps led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York or Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who are both reportedly eyeing the speakership. Democrats have set their leadership election for Nov. 30.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button