Republicans eke out slim margin to control House
Kevin McCarthy, who has debased himself over and over again by bowing and scraping to the criminal insurrectionist and coup-plotting former President Trump has the support of the majority of the Republican caucus to become Speaker of the House. | Susan Walsh/AP

Republicans won control of the House Wednesday by almost the barest of margins possible. The margin is so thin that it took a week after Election Day for the results to become clear.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced she will relinquish the position of leader of the House Democrats but retain her seat in Congress, continuing to represent San Francisco. She would have been overwhelmingly elected as Democratic House Leader in the GOP-run Congress that takes over on Jan. 3, but said she wanted to make room for new, younger leadership.

Nancy Pelosi is giving up leadership of the Dems in the House after 20 years of holding that position. She will go down in history as perhaps the most effective Speaker of the House ever. | Carolyn Kaster/AP

It is hoped that the tiny Republican margin of victory and that Democratic control of the Senate will limit the amount of damage they can do during the final two years of the Biden administration. Republicans had expected a “red wave” which never happened this year.

There was good news Wednesday for Democrats, however, with the victory in the race for mayor of Los Angeles by Democratic Rep. Karen Bass. The voters made history by choosing Bass, an African American who will be the first woman mayor of the nation’s second largest city.

Karen Bass was elected yesterday as the first woman ever to head up Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest city. | Damian Dovarganes/AP

Bass defeated Rick Caruso, a right-wing billionaire real estate developer that poured $100 million of his ill-earned profits into his own campaign. He ran what amounted to a racist “law and order” campaign to try to appeal to fear of crime among voters. Although L.A. suffers from a high crime rate, it is nowhere nearly as bad as it was at its peak in the 1990s.

Bass has said she will declare a state of emergency regarding homelessness in L.A. and that she will find housing for 17,000 people in her first office.

In the race for the House, meanwhile, Democrats will finish with at least 210 seats but as many as 217. If they reach the higher figure it will be Republican control, but only by a single seat.

Republicans have waged a ceaseless campaign for two years now that includes election denial and lying, support for conspiracy theories, attacks on the rights of women, racism and anti-Semitism, attacks on the right to vote, and illegal gerrymandering schemes, among many other things in order to win their bare majority.

MAGA Republicans are not done yet

The slim majority they were able to eke out will not prevent them from wielding dangerous powers, however. The party that controls the House has always been able to elect a new Speaker. The Speaker is second in line to the presidency if, for any reason, the president and the vice president cannot serve.

When they take over on Jan. 3, Republicans will run every committee and decide what bills come to the House floor, increasing the chance that they will be able to halt much of the Biden agenda. For legislation to become law, bills have to be passed by both the Senate and the House.

The right-wingers among them will push for frivolous investigations of people in the Biden administration, including possible attempts to impeach Biden for reasons known only to themselves at this point.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has already unveiled his “Commitment to America,” a broad outline of economic, border “security,” and other policies that the GOP would propose in the early days of the next Congress. Republican plans also include what amounts to the virtual crippling of Social Security and Medicare. It is only Senate control by Democrats and the veto power of President Biden that will prevent them from inflicting this major damage on the the people of the United States.

A powerful right wing within their caucus will exert pressure to hold up major bills that fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Despite the defeat of many election deniers in their elections last week, the majority of the newly-elected Republican caucus will consist of election deniers who voted against the certification of Biden’s win on Jan. 6, 2021. Many of the members of the GOP caucus supported or actually participated in the insurrection and coup attempt that day.

They will certainly oppose any attempt to revive the Jan. 6 committee investigating the coup, which will go out of existence on Jan. 3 when the GOP takes over the House.

Kevin McCarthy won the nomination for House Speaker on Tuesday, with the backing of some 180 members of the Republican caucus; but he will need 218 votes to become Speaker on Jan. 3. The extreme right-wing and fascist members of his caucus, of whom there are many, can be expected to pressure him for major concessions in exchange for their support.

Last Saturday, the AP determined that Democrats had maintained control of the Senate after calling the Nevada Senate race for incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto over Republican challenger Adam Laxalt. The Georgia race between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker is headed to a runoff next month, meaning that Democrats could pick up a 51st seat.

If Republicans win in Georgia, the chamber will remain split at 50-50, as it is currently, with Vice President Kamala Harris—who sides with Democrats—being a tie-breaking vote.

In the House contests last week, Democrats did far batter all across the country than was expected by the punditry and the GOP-controlled pollsters. If it were not for gerrymandering and court rulings by Republican appointed judges they would now be in control of the House, with Republicans holding a smaller caucus than they had before Election Day last week.

In New York alone, the GOP would not have gained four of the seats it did. The Republicans needed five seats to flip the chamber and their Republican puppet on the judiciary in New York handed them four of those five seats by literally drawing lines that put four Dems out of office.

Republicans, however, are seriously split and are finger pointing and blame passing about their failure, as they expected, to do better. The only thing they are not blaming is the fact that the majority of voters support democracy rather than the fascism and autocracy backed by so many of them.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.