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Control of Congress Divided as Republicans Choose Leadership

As of press time, Republicans control 218 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats control 210 seats and 7 seats have not been determined.
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control of congress divided as republicans choose leadership

On Wednesday night, eight days after the 2022 midterm elections, news outlets officially called control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the Republican Party. Despite falling short of expectations, Republicans wrestled control of the House away from the Democratic Party and, in doing so, will provide a significant check on the executive branch's legislative agenda.

However, the Republican House majority will be extremely narrow and navigating such a small margin is likely to prove challenging for the incoming leadership.

As of press time, Republicans control 218 seats, Democrats control 210 seats and 7 seats have not been determined. Five of those seats are in California, which has up to 33 days following the election to count ballots before certifying a winner. One outstanding race is in Colorado and another is in Alaska, which will be decided Nov. 23 through ranked choice voting.

Accounting for these outstanding races, Republicans are expected to increase their majority by just a few seats.

On Tuesday, Republicans in the House held their leadership elections. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) secured his party's nomination for speaker of the House and now advances to a full vote in the House on Jan. 3 where he will need to secure 218 votes to become the 55th person in U.S. history to hold the speaker's gavel.

The Republican Party's new majority leader will be Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), who ran unopposed in a sign of overwhelming support. Meanwhile, in a close race for majority whip, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota) emerged victorious.

Having served as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for the past two election cycles, Rep. Emmer was the chief architect behind flipping House control and his conference rewarded him. Speculation suggests that Emmer will name Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pennsylvania) as his chief deputy whip, which is an especially important role in a closely divided Congress.

In the race for House GOP conference chair, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) won convincingly and retains a position that she held for much of the current Congress. Rounding out the leadership team is Rep. Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina), who will take the helm of the NRCC from Emmer.

On Thursday morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced that she will not seek a leadership position in the next Congress but will continue to serve in the House. Rep. Pelosi was the first woman to serve as speaker and has served as the leader of the House Democrats for nearly 20 years. Additionally, House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said he won't seek a leadership position but will remain in Congress. Other leadership changes are expected as well. Democrats in the House are scheduled to hold their leadership elections the week of Nov. 28.

The Democratic Party successfully defended all their vulnerable seats in the Senate and is guaranteed to retain control of the upper chamber with a minimum of 50 seats. The race in Georgia is headed to a Dec. 6 runoff to determine whether Democrats will control the upper chamber 51-49, or whether the current 50-50 split will give Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote.

On Wednesday, Republicans in the Senate held their leadership elections. There were no changes at the top as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) retained his position as the party's leader in the Senate. Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) continue as whip and conference chair, respectively. The new Policy Committee chair will be Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and the new vice chair of the GOP Conference will be Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia). Taking over the reins of the National Republican Senatorial Committee will be Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana).

Democrats in the Senate are scheduled to hold their leadership elections on Dec. 8, two days after the Georgia runoff.

Nathan Riedel is Big “I" vice president of political affairs.