In recent events, the House Republican majority has been reduced to just three seats, marking a significant shift in the chamber’s dynamics. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s retirement has played a crucial role in this transformation.
During a pro forma session held on Tuesday, the House officially updated the number of seats held by its members. McCarthy’s resignation from Congress became effective on December 31, 2023, and Tuesday’s session was the first gavel since his departure.
With McCarthy’s exit, the House now comprises 433 members. House Republicans currently hold 220 seats, while House Democrats control 213 seats. This delicate balance creates a challenging political landscape for House Republicans, particularly under the new leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson from Louisiana.
The Republican party faces a tightrope walk, as two vacancies have left them with a slim three-seat majority. The removal of disgraced former New York GOP Representative George Santos, combined with McCarthy’s resignation, has put House Republicans in a precarious position.
Speaker Johnson must tread carefully, as he can afford only three defectors from his party if Democrats vote against any measure. Any more than that could potentially tip the Democrats’ favor.
However, the House breakdown is expected to change once again soon. Democratic Representative Brian Higgins from New York has announced his resignation, effective in February, as he takes on a new role at Buffalo, New York’s Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
This upcoming vacancy may provide House Republicans with some breathing room, albeit temporarily. The special election to fill Santos’ seat in New York’s Third Congressional District is scheduled for February 13, 2024. If the seat were to flip to the Democratic party, it would again narrow the GOP majority.
McCarthy’s resignation resulted from his removal from the speakership by a group of eight Republicans led by Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida, along with unanimous support from the Democrats in the chamber.
As McCarthy bids farewell, he has taken shots at Gaetz, suggesting that history will not remember his actions fondly. In a recent interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, McCarthy emphasized that “history will judge him, and history will judge all of us.”
With the House Republican majority whittled down to just three seats, the political landscape within the chamber continues to shift. As new vacancies arise and elections unfold, the balance of power hangs in the balance. The decisions made by both parties in the coming months will undoubtedly shape the course of American politics.