Republicans have won control of the US House of Representatives after the decisive results of last week's midterm elections came in, returning the party to power in Washington.
But a threadbare majority will pose immediate challenges for the conservative party's leaders and complicate its ability to govern.
Republicans secured the 218th seat needed to flip the House from Democratic control. The full scope of the party’s majority may not be clear for several more days — or weeks — as votes in competitive races are still being counted.
Even with a slim majority, the party will have notable power. Republicans will take control of key committees, giving them the ability to shape legislation and launch investigations, including potentially into Biden, his administration and his family.
Any legislation that emerges from the House could face steep odds in the Senate, where Democrats won the barest of majorities on Saturday. Both parties are looking to a December 6 Senate runoff in Georgia.
With such a potentially slim House majority, there’s also potential for legislative chaos.
Democrats showed surprising resilience in the midterms, holding on to moderate, suburban districts from Virginia to Minnesota and Kansas.
House Republican Kevin McCarthy celebrated his party having “officially flipped” the House on Twitter on Wednesday night, writing, “Americans are ready for a new direction, and House Republicans are ready to deliver.”
Current House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, released a statement Wednesday night saying, “In the next Congress, House Democrats will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority.”
Joe Biden congratulated McCarthy, saying he is “ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families.”
“Last week’s elections demonstrated the strength and resilience of American democracy. There was a strong rejection of election deniers, political violence, and intimidation,” the US president said in a statement. “There was an emphatic statement that, in America, the will of the people prevails.”
He added, that “the future is too promising to be trapped in political warfare."
Some Republicans have blamed Donald Trump for the worse-than-expected outcome. The former president, who announced his third White House bid on Tuesday, promoted candidates who often questioned the results of the 2020 election or downplayed the mob attack on the US Capitol last year. Many of those struggled to win during the midterms.
Republican candidates pledged on the campaign trail to cut taxes and tighten border security. Conservative lawmakers also could withhold aid to Ukraine as it fights a war with Russia or use the threat of defaulting on the nation’s debt as leverage to extract cuts from social spending and entitlements — though all such pursuits will be tougher given how small the Republican majority may end up being.