2022 midterm election results: Republicans expect to retake the House by a razor-thin majority
WASHINGTON– The Democrats entered the last Congress with the smallest parliamentary majority in 20 years: just 222 seats, four more than the minimum required for control.
In January, when the next Congress begins, Republicans could be back in power with an even smaller majority in the House of Commons.
As of Monday night, ABC News estimates that the GOP won 214 House seats in last week’s midterm elections. There are still 14 districts not scheduled yet, though Democrats are leading in some, and FiveThirtyEight predicts Republicans could retake the House with just 218, which is the minimum required.
This is unprecedented in modern times, and some Conservatives are already wondering how governable their faction would be with such limited room for error.
“Proceed cautiously,” said a House Republican who was granted anonymity to speak frankly when asked what advice he would give to GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who is seeking the speakership. “This is just such a divisive time. It’s divisive within our party, it’s divisive between Republicans and Democrats and vice versa.”
The composition of each congress is fluid at the edges. For example, since January 2021 there have been four, five, six – up to seven – job offers at the same time in the company at different times. Lawmakers die, resign, or leave office for other positions in government. These changes could have day-to-day implications for a majority of just a few seats.
McCarthy and other Republicans entered the midterms with optimism as they flipped as many as two dozen districts in the House of Representatives. In anticipation of a return to power, McCarthy had unveiled a “commitment to America,” promising to focus on southern border immigration, cutting funding for the IRS, reassessing U.S. support for Ukraine, and the white Investigate Biden’s house.
But last week’s election results show that McCarthy would instead have to lead by few, if any, votes to spare those priorities a conflicting conference made up of competing viewpoints from moderates, pro-Trump officials, fiscal conservatives and others.
“It’s going to be very difficult to find your feet and make everyone happy, but he can’t make everyone happy,” the House Republican said.
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Former Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., put the lack of a large margin differently. “It makes a huge difference for a leader to have that kind of cushion,” he said.
In a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week, current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked by George Stephanopoulos how she views McCarthy leading his party when he’s in control.
Pelosi noted that Democrats currently have a five-seat majority and have successfully passed legislation.
“It depends on their purpose. In our house we had numbers like that. But we agreed,” she said.
Would the divisions hinder Ukraine and Biden?
Republicans speaking to ABC News for that story had said that if there is a GOP majority, McCarthy would likely start the new Congress in good faith, given his financial and political support for many other members and his alliances with the prominent party. Trump right flank.
However, after the interim results became clear last week, some GOP lawmakers began to openly voice their dissatisfaction.
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However, it remains unclear who else in the faction could challenge him. Others in the leadership, like Steve Scalise, are seeking fewer positions in Tuesday’s intraparty elections. (The official vote for speaker won’t take place until January.)
But if he remains at the head of a small Republican majority, McCarthy would likely be forced to plunge headlong into a spate of political infighting both with the White House and internally, GOP lawmakers and activists have said.
The two previous Republican speakers, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, both retired after heading the House. Boehner specifically cited a desire to avoid the “uproar” of the scuffle for the lead.
Debate has already erupted over aid to Ukraine, with McCarthy warning last month that there should be no “blank check” from the US to help the country against the Russian invasion. He later insisted that didn’t mean there would be no support at all, saying on CNBC, “Wouldn’t you want a check and balance in Congress? Don’t you want these hard-working taxpayers’ money, someone to oversee it?”
“I’m very supportive of Ukraine,” McCarthy told CNN last week. “I think it needs to be accounted for in the future.”
The issue has divided Republicans. Controversial Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene vowed earlier this month that “under Republicans not a penny will go to Ukraine. Our country comes first.”
Greene, a popular figure among Trump supporters, has also openly boasted about what she called her influence on Republican voters. She previously suggested to the New York Times, “To be the best speaker in the House and to please the grassroots, [McCarthy is] will give me much strength.”
McCarthy has vowed to reinstate Greene on congressional committees after Democrats and some Republicans stripped her of her duties last year, citing her history of inflammatory statements.
On Monday, during an appearance on Charlie Kirk’s show, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., insisted that he and four other Republicans would try to block McCarthy in the lead race. “One in five people is now essentially a veto,” he said.
Elsewhere, on Monday’s podcast by embattled former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon, Greene signaled that she supports McCarthy and disagrees with a possible challenge against him by other conservatives in the party. She cited how few seats they could hold in total.
“Actually, I think that’s a bad strategy when it comes to a wafer-thin majority with a potential of 219. We speak of one voice,” she said.
She later told ABC News Monday, “I think the Republicans have to choose our speaker and not let the Democrats choose our speaker.”
Scalise also reiterated that McCarthy “will be the speaker.”
“Who else would it be?” Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas told ABC News on Monday.
Domestically, McCarthy could use the federal debt ceiling – which must be raised by Congress to meet the government’s financial commitments – as leverage to get spending concessions, which pleases Conservatives but risks a default. Similarly fierce battles are expected to be fought over government funding.
“We’ve seen a willingness to stress test it in the past. But they will prevent a default,” said former Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., of the debt limit Democrats are expected to try to raise before the Lame Duck session before January. “World markets will not allow Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans to default on us. But the government shutdown? Yes, I think we can expect some closures over the next two years.”
Jolly also predicted little legislative consensus with President Joe Biden, who many Republicans believe was elected to challenge him.
When asked if there’s room for a larger collaboration, Jolly replied, “I’d say just on the budget.”
Biden said Wednesday he would invite Republican leadership to the White House, and he and McCarthy spoke on the same day. But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered reporters few details on areas of possible collaboration. She said Thursday Biden will “not renegotiate new things that have already passed.”
Beyond politics, McCarthy would likely face pressure from lawmakers like Greene and others who support an opposing oversight effort in the Biden administration.
Greene has been vocal in supporting Biden’s impeachment on a range of policy issues, while other Republicans have hinted at investigations into the president’s son, Hunter Biden — as well as immigration, COVID-19, outgoing medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and more.
“I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, but if there’s wrongdoing there, it deserves to be investigated, and I think the American people deserve to know the truth about it,” said a former GOP Advisor to Hunter Biden’s House of Representatives who has said he has done nothing wrong with his dealings.
However, this former aide said there was a risk that the investigation would become her own distraction: “It can’t be a Republican’s top priority. This can’t be a thing where we take back the house and then Kevin McCarthy comes out here and says, ‘OK, well, our number one priority is going to be the Hunter Biden investigation.’ No, because then you will scare off a lot of people.”
A GOP scientist was even more blunt. “It would show an amazing reluctance not to do the stupid s—,” they said. “Focus on the issues, focus on overthrowing the government from a political point of view, focus on things people care about. You know what people don’t care about? Impeachment of Biden. You know what people don’t care about? Hunter Biden to re-sue Fauci. Things like that are stupid.”
McCarthy recently told CNN that “we will never use impeachment for political purposes.
Don’t ignore the moderates
Some of the Republican activists said that as a speaker, McCarthy also had to be mindful of the moderates in the House of Representatives. Several of the party’s few mid-term successes in Congress have come in counties in reliably blue New York.
One of those lawmakers, Mike Lawler, struck a friendly tone in his victory remarks. “I can assure everyone that I will do my best to represent all people from every community and from every walk of life, whether you voted for me or not and whether you agree with my policies or not,” he said.
“Often the moderates who behave are the ones who kind of get left out of it all. It’s a balancing act,” a GOP strategist who works on house races told ABC News.
Still, McCarthy has relatively fewer opportunities to deal with disagreements when he’s ruffling feathers.
“Twenty years ago you could say, ‘Hey, we’ll cut your money or we’ll cut your communications, your press.’ But you can’t do that in today’s media environment,” the pollster said. Pointing to Greene, “[She] will still have a microphone.”
The strategist said little is certain about the coming months, including the trajectory of a McCarthy majority.
“He will be the speaker on the first day,” they said. “No one can imagine how long that will take.”
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Jay O’Brien and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.
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https://abc7.com/2022-election-results-midterm-elections-republican-house-us/12455537/ 2022 midterm election results: Republicans expect to retake the House by a razor-thin majority