Washington — Republicans will win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, flipping control of the lower chamber from the Democrats, but by a narrower margin than many expected heading into the midterm elections, according to CBS News projections.
The GOP is now projected to win between 218-223 seats, a narrow majority. Republicans needed 218 to claim the House majority. Ballots are still being counted in a handful of close races.
Though the projections indicate Republicans will prevail, their slim majority is likely to complicate House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become House speaker and provide leverage to the conservative faction of the GOP conference. He acknowledged in a letter to Republican colleagues the pressures that come with their new”I trust you know that earning the majority is only the beginning,” he wrote. “Now, we will be measured by what we do with our majority.”
In the House GOP leadership elections Tuesday, McCarthyFreedom Caucus challenger Rep. Andy Biggs, winning 188 votes to become the party’s nominee for speaker. But to win the gavel, McCarthy will need 218 votes on the House floor.
In a statement Wednesday, President Biden said, “I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families.”
The projections indicate Mr. Biden will face a divided Congress in the second half of his first term in office, with Democrats having secured the Senate. The dynamic will complicate efforts by the president to make progress on more divisive areas of his policy agenda, such as enshrining the right to an abortion into federal law and voting rights legislation. A GOP-controlled House is also poised to launch investigations, with targets including Hunter Biden, the president’s son, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Some Republicans have threatened to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the southern border.
Mr. Biden acknowledged the challenging political landscape of a House led by Republicans, telling reporters in Bali, Indonesia, this week that he does not believe there are enough votes to protect abortion access unless something “unusual” happens in the House.
Still, the president, buoyed by the midterm results, hailed the elections as evidence of the “strength and resilience of American democracy.”
“The American people prove once again that democracy is who we are,” Mr. Biden said. “There was a strong rejection ofat every level from those seeking to lead our states and those who are seeking to serve in Congress, and also those seeking to oversee the elections. And there was a strong rejection of political violence and voter intimidation.”
House Republicans went into Election Day needing to shift five seats to reach the 218 needed to win the majority. Outside groups for House Republicans focused heavily on seats held by Democrats, and where President Biden had won. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the main outside group for House Republicans, said it spent a total of $170 million on advertising in places where Mr. Biden won by five points or more.
Kabir Khanna and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.