Republicans narrowly regained the majority in the House of Representatives Wednesday, salvaging a measure of success on what turned out to be a worse-than-expected midterm election night for the GOP.
The race that put the GOP over the top at 218 members in the lower chamber was incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Garcia’s victory over Democrat Christy Smith in California’s 27 Congressional District. The race was called with 75% of the vote in, more than a week after Election Day, and Garcia leading 54.2% to Smith’s 45.8%.
“It is the honor of my lifetime to continue to serve [California’s 27th District] in Congress. I ran to fight for California families and protect the American Dream, and I look forward to working hard every day to continue that mission. Thank you #CA27!” Garcia said in a tweet.
In a statement, President Biden congratulated the House GOP and its next speaker, Kevin McCarthy for their achievement on Wednesday and signaled his willingness to work with the opposition party.
“I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families,” the 79-year-old president wrote.
Biden added that the midterm elections last week “demonstrated the strength and resilience of American democracy” and said that voters rejected “election deniers, political violence, and intimidation.”
“In this election, voters spoke clearly about their concerns: the need to lower costs, protect the right to choose, and preserve our democracy. As I said last week, the future is too promising to be trapped in political warfare. The American people want us to get things done for them. They want us to focus on the issues that matter to them and on making their lives better. And I will work with anyone – Republican or Democrat – willing to work with me to deliver results for them,” his statement concluded.
When polls closed across America Nov. 8, many pundits were predicting a Republican surge rivaling the party’s halcyon days of 1994 and 2010, with voters punishing Democrats for a shaky economy and decades-high inflation.
However, the results made clear those predictions had misread the national room, with a significant number of voters rallying around the Democrats over their support for abortion rights following the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade this past June.
Another bloc of voters — even those who disapproved of President Biden’s work in the White House — also showed their disgust with candidates deemed too close to former President Donald Trump.
Exit polls also indicated that independent voters, who typically break against the party in power by double digits in midterm years, narrowly backed Democrats this time — giving candidates a crucial boost in several tight races.
With Republicans needing to flip a net of just five seats to regain control of Congress’ lower chamber, it would have required a near-superhuman performance from Democrats to remain in power. Ultimately, the GOP took just enough seats in New York and Florida and held on to enough seats in Western states like California, Arizona and Colorado to secure the 218 needed.
The narrow majority calls into question the future of promised wide-ranging, GOP-led House committee investigations into the Biden administration on topics including the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the ongoing migration crisis at the US-Mexico border — and first son Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings, which were revealed to the world by The Post more than two years ago.
McCarthy (R-Calif.) managed to survive a challenge from former House Freedom Caucus head Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday and was elected as the GOP’s nominee for speaker.
He had faced blistering attacks from his Republican colleagues for his handling of the election after a highly anticipated “red wave” failed to develop.
McCarthy held off Biggs with a 188-31 vote among Republicans, but will have to amass 218 votes when the full House votes on Jan. 3 to succeed his fellow Golden Stater Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La) was chosen to move up a rung to House Majority Leader and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who has effectively led the House Republicans’ campaign arm for the past two election cycles, was elected Majority Whip.
The Democratic leadership hierarchy is more in flux, with questions mounting about what the future holds for the 82-year-old Pelosi — who easily won another two-year term Tuesday. Earlier this year, Pelosi’s office flatly denied a report that the soon-to-be-former Speaker wanted Biden to name her ambassador to Italy if Democrats lost the House this year.
However, with husband Paul Pelosi recovering from a brutal Oct. 28 hammer attack in the couple’s San Francisco home, the prospect of leaving Washington before her term is done may hold renewed appeal for Nancy Pelosi, who has led the House Democratic conference for 20 years.
Among those reportedly interested in taking Pelosi’s place include Brooklyn and Queens Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) who would be the first black lawmaker to serve as a congressional leader of either party. Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) is seen as another potential contender, along with Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
The same questions about Pelosi’s future are being asked about 83-year-old House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and 82-year-old Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), both of whom were also re-elected with ease Tuesday, but face a long, trying two years in the minority.