House Republican Majority Shrinks Again as Congress Faces Critical Issues

House Republican Majority Shrinks Again as Congress Faces Critical Issues

And then there have been two.

With Democrat Tom Suozzi’s victory in a particular House election in New York on Tuesday, the shrinking Republican majority within the House dwindled even additional, leaving the G.O.P. capable of afford solely two defections from the party line on votes when all members are current.

That offers them virtually no cushion to cope with the inevitable absences brought on by sickness, journey delays, weddings, funerals and unexpected occasions that might preserve Republicans away from the House flooring for votes. It comes as Congress is dealing with a crush of points, together with early-March deadlines for funding the federal government and a pending emergency nationwide safety spending invoice to ship support to Ukraine, Israel and different American allies.

It additionally offers every particular person House Republican much more leverage over Speaker Mike Johnson, who’s already struggling to steer his unmanageable majority.

“I’d be consistently on protection, I’d be making an attempt to keep away from defeats, and I’d be very, very cautious,” former Speaker Newt Gingrich mentioned in an interview.

The risks of the slim margin have been already obvious on Tuesday evening, even earlier than Mr. Suozzi gained the Long Island seat previously occupied by George Santos, the Republican lawmaker who was expelled from the House in December.

In their second try to impeach Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland safety secretary, Republicans succeeded by only one vote after three of their members broke with the party to oppose it. If both of the 2 Democrats who have been absent had proven up, the impeachment that Republicans had been promising their voters for greater than a yr would have failed once more. (The two Democratic absentees have been Representative Judy Chu of California, who mentioned she was isolating after testing constructive for the coronavirus, and Representative Lois Frankel of Florida, who was grounded by a delayed flight.)

“That impeachment decision couldn’t cross now,” mentioned Aaron Fritschner, a longtime adviser to Representative Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia, who mentioned Mr. Suozzi’s seat flip “imperils each Republicans’ potential to carry the House in November and their potential to manipulate till then.”

“Under Republican management, the House has seen historic quantities of chaos and paralysis, and it’s about to get slightly bit crazier,” Mr. Fritschner added.

After Mr. Suozzi is sworn in, Republicans will maintain 219 seats to Democrats’ 213, down three from once they gained a slender majority in November 2022, due to a mixture of coincidence, scandal, well being points and political turmoil.

On Wednesday, as they watched their majority get even smaller, some Republicans have been ruing the choice by their colleagues to expel Mr. Santos, who served as a dependable Republican vote in Congress regardless of being a serial fabulist, a determine of nationwide ridicule and the topic of a 23-count federal indictment.

Representative Byron Donalds, Republican of Florida, instructed CNN that Mr. Santos had but to be discovered responsible of any crimes when he was expelled and, “to pre-empt that, to attain political factors, was silly.”

The minuscule majority will likely be Speaker Mike Johnson’s actuality for the approaching yr. In April, Democrats are prone to fill a protected seat that was occupied by Representative Brian Higgins, Democrat of New York, who left Congress earlier this month to develop into president of the Shea Performing Arts Center. That seat gained’t change the margin of management, however will permit even much less room for Republican absences.

There will likely be some modest aid for Republicans within the late spring and early summer time, when they’re prone to fill two protected seats that have been vacated by Representative Bill Johnson, Republican of Ohio, who left Congress to develop into the president of Youngstown State University; and former Representative Kevin McCarthy, who resigned from his California seat on the finish of final yr after being ousted from the speakership.

But with a Republican convention that’s extra usually divided in opposition to itself than appearing as a united entrance, it’s going to stay tough for Mr. Johnson to cross any payments that rely strictly on votes from his personal party.

Mr. Gingrich mentioned the one manner ahead for Mr. Johnson was to vastly decrease expectations of what House Republicans could possibly be anticipated to perform.

“Johnson has to promote the nation that having House Republicans who use the investigative device, and who block dangerous concepts, is all you may get till the election,” he mentioned. “And then we’ll see if now we have a greater future. He shouldn’t exhaust himself making an attempt to do issues he can’t do.”

Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota, mentioned the G.O.P. had made a foul scenario worse due to its deep inner divisions.

“At the start of this Congress, you might have imagined the tightness of the margins would make Republicans band collectively,” Mr. Weber mentioned. Instead, he mentioned, the slim majority had emboldened the onerous proper to stage inner rebellions to press its personal agenda, moderately than falling in line to assist the party put up a united entrance in opposition to President Biden and Democrats.

Mr. Johnson, like Mr. McCarthy earlier than him, has responded by discovering methods to steer round right-wing rebels and work with Democrats to cross vital measures. Mr. Johnson has accomplished so just lately by counting on a procedural movement that enables him to briefly droop House guidelines and pace laws by means of however requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

Mr. Johnson has acknowledged the constricting actuality of wielding such a fragile majority.

“We cope with the numbers now we have,” he mentioned on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

But as his first, failed try to impeach Mr. Mayorkas confirmed in a humiliating trend, with inevitable absences, he won’t all the time know what numbers he has to cope with.

House Republican leaders have stepped up their efforts to maintain tabs on their members’ whereabouts, however that may typically be like herding cats. Lawmakers usually journey with out letting leaders know of their plans, regardless of a requirement to present discover when potential. Sometimes a frontrunner learns of a lawmaker’s location solely when she or he posts a video or {a photograph} on social media.

“Illnesses, funerals, weddings — all of these issues should be taken into consideration in a manner that they weren’t earlier than,” Mr. Weber mentioned. “Members aren’t used to having to be accountable for his or her whereabouts always. The House of Representatives could be very a lot a gaggle of particular person entrepreneurs. They don’t prefer to have to inform anyone the place they’re going to be and once they’re going to be there.”

On huge votes, members mentioned, it’s now understood that everybody will likely be current until they’ve given discover that they can’t be there. On Tuesday, for example, Representative Brian Mast, Republican of Florida, notified leaders that his flight was delayed and that he wouldn’t make the vote.

For Republicans, it was uncomfortably shut.

“Thankfully, regardless of mechanical failures on my flight, we nonetheless had sufficient votes to question him tonight,” Mr. Mast posted on social media after the vote in opposition to Mr. Mayorkas.



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