WASHINGTON — U.S. Republicans were on the cusp Tuesday of winning control of the House of Representatives in the next session of Congress that takes office in January.
After new Republican victories Monday night, the party has won 217 seats to the Democrats' 204 in both parties' quest for a 218-seat majority in the 435-member chamber.
Election analysts say vote counts in the remaining 14 contests give Republicans plenty of opportunities to pick up one more seat and likely additional ones to wrest control of the chamber from the current Democratic majority.
Democratic President Joe Biden acknowledged as much on Monday, telling reporters at a G-20 news conference in Indonesia, "I think we're going to get very close in the House. I think it's going to be very close, but I don't think we're going to make it."
In late vote counting Monday, six days after last Tuesday’s nationwide congressional elections, Republicans picked up seats in the eastern state of New York and the western states of Arizona and California. The outcomes of more contests in California, the country’s most populous state, and elsewhere remain to be decided.
The impending Republican takeover of the lower chamber of Congress is bittersweet for the party, giving it control but with a far smaller majority than many party officials had predicted before the election. That could make it hard for the party to unify on key legislation, which in any event is likely to be opposed in the Senate, where Democrats will have a continuing narrow edge.
Nonetheless, a Republican majority in the House is likely to give Biden opponents an entrée to launch investigations of his administration's missteps during his first two years in the White House, such as last year's chaotic U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the lack of control of the influx of thousands of migrants across the U.S. border with Mexico.
A House Republican majority would also let top party leaders join negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House over crucial government spending allocations, climate change policies, continued aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia and other significant issues.
Democrats retained their narrow control of the Senate this past weekend, as they captured their 50th seat in the 100-member chamber, allowing Vice President Kamala Harris, as the chamber's presiding officer, to cast tie-breaking votes on controversial legislation.
Democrats currently hold a 50-49 edge in the next Senate session, with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock facing a December 6 runoff election in Georgia against his Republican opponent, former college and professional football star Herschel Walker, to decide the final contest.
Most U.S. political analysts are predicting that when all the remaining House races are decided, Republicans will have an advantage of between three and nine seats, well below Republican leaders' pre-election predictions of as much as a 30-seat majority.
"We beat the odds," Biden told reporters in Cambodia, where he attended a summit of Asian nations before heading to Bali, Indonesia, for a summit of the world's 20 largest economies. "I feel good, and I'm looking forward to the next couple years."
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, assured of remaining that chamber's majority leader, called the results a "vindication" for Democrats and their agenda.
He said Republicans had turned off voters with extremism and "negativity," including some candidates' erroneous insistence that the 2020 election had been stolen from then-President Donald Trump.
"America showed that we believed in our democracy," Schumer told reporters.
Some Republicans are targeting Trump for his support of candidates, many of whom lost, that was based largely on whether they agreed with his false claim that he was cheated from reelection.
Some Republicans have noted that the 45th president, as the biggest name in Republican politics, has now presided over three large party losses: in the 2018 midterm elections; his own loss seeking reelection in 2020; and a less-than-successful Republican showing in the midterm elections last week.
Nonetheless, Trump has signaled he will announce his 2024 presidential candidacy Tuesday night, his third run for the White House.
Even as he ignores calls from some Republicans to hold off on the announcement until this year’s election is definitively completed, Trump is facing federal and state criminal investigations that could complicate his new political ambitions. He was twice impeached in the House for his actions as president but acquitted in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority was required for conviction.
Now, the former president is being investigated for his role in trying to upend his 2020 loss, allegations that he fomented the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, and allegations he illegally took highly classified national security documents with him when he left office 22 months ago.
No criminal charges have been brought against him, but prosecutors have not publicly disclosed any timetable for completing the various investigations. (KB/VOA)