More than a week after Election Day, Republicans secured the 218th seat needed to take control of the U.S. House on Wednesday, returning the party to power in Washington.
Democrats defied predictions of a rout but there will now be split control of Congress as Democrats captured a thin Senate majority.
The divided government will not enable conservatives to accomplish any of their professed objectives but they will have the leverage to put a stop to Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Republicans are expected to mire the Democratic administration with a flurry of investigations on topics ranging from the important to the innocuous or inane.
The threadbare GOP majority poses several immediate challenges for Republican leaders that severely complicate the party’s ability to govern but the party’s numerical majority remain unclear for several more days — or possibly weeks — as votes in close races are still being tallied, any recounts may take time and election challenges need to wend their way through the courts.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will claim the speaker’s gavel, but only after pledging fealty to former president Donald Trump and his party’s right-wing base in a contentious internal party vote.
Democrats have won 212 seats so far for the next Congress. They have at least 50 senators with one race heading to a runoff election in Georgia, while the nation’s governors are divided 24 Democrats and 25 Republicans, with one race yet to be called.
In the 36 races on the ballot, four states have flipped control of governorships: Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts went to Democrats while Nevada flipped for Republicans.
One race for governor in Alaska remains unprojected as ranked choice ballots are still being tallied.
But the GOP is on track to cobble together what could be the party’s narrowest majority of the 21st century, rivaling 2001, when Republicans had just a nine-seat majority, 221-212 with two independents.
That’s far short of the sweeping victory the GOP predicted going into this year’s midterm elections, when the party hoped to reset the agenda on Capitol Hill by capitalizing on economic challenges and Biden’s lagging popularity.
However, Biden’s presidency is now all but officially over, since he will be unable to pass legislation and is likely to face impeachments, investigations and insanity for the next two years.