The Battle for the US House Is Far From Over — What Businesses Need to Know

While Democrats are now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, their reign may be short lived...

The Battle for the US House Is Far From Over — What Businesses Need to Know

The Battle for the US House Is Far From Over — What Businesses Need to Know

<strong>While Democrats are now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, their reign may be short lived.</strong>..

Author: Edward "Teddy" Eynon|April 27, 2021

While Democrats are now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, their reign may be short-lived. In the coming months, several special elections will be held that have the potential to shift the balance of power. Since WW2, the average loss in the House for a president’s party in his first midterm has been about 28 seats.  If that trend holds in 2022, Republicans will have 241 seats (to Democrats 194) come January 2023.

Democrats Hold Slim Majority in House

Democrats currently hold a slim six-seat majority in the House. With the swearing in of Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), the Democrats hold 218 seats, while the Republicans hold 212. There are currently five vacancies, which will be filled in special elections held over the next several months: the Louisiana 2nd District on April 24, Texas 6th on May 1, New Mexico 1st on June 1, and Ohio 11th on November 2. The special election to fill the seat of Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), who passed away on April 6, 2021, has not yet been scheduled.

Practically speaking, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’smajority is down to two votes, a fact not lost on Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy. “If we flip three, we can take down a bill,” he recently stated. With one of the tightest margins in Congressional history, the speaker can’t afford to lose any Democrats on any bill right now, which may make it difficult to achieve some of President Joe Biden’s more progressive policy goals.

The last time the margin was this slim was 1931. After the 1930 election, Republicans held control in the House by three seats. Republican Nicholas Longworth, the Speaker of the House in the previous Congress, was Speaker-presumptive. However, he died before Congress convened. In total, 14 Members-elect died between Election Day 1930 and the start of the 72nd Congress (1931–1933). The results of the subsequent special elections caused party control of the House to change, with Democrats holding the majority of the House seats.

Special elections could result in a similar situation in 2021. If the Republicans were to win a special election (e.g. New Mexico), it would result in a Democratic majority of one. Further, if the Republicans could convince three Democrats to switch parties (or more) given the "inevitable" change in control next year, we could see a House flip for the first time since 1931.  

2022 Midterm Elections Could Flip the House

The midterm elections, which will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, also have the potential to alter the balance of power in both the House and the Senate.  During the midterms, all 435 seats in the House and 34 of the 100 seats in Senate will be contested. 

In bad news for President Biden, the party of first-term presidents tends to lose seats in the first midterm election following their election, a phenomenon often referred to as the “midterm curse.” In 2010, President Barack Obama’s Democrats lost 63 seats, which the President acknowledged was a “shellacking.” President Donald Trump’s Republicans lost 40 in 2018. In 1994, President Bill Clinton’s House majority disappeared when Democrats lost 54 seats.

Of course, it is possible that Democrats buck the trend. As the Hill reports, polling currently suggests that the popularity of President Biden’s COVID-19 policies and proposed infrastructure plan may give Democrats a boost. At the same time, Republicans in several states will soon be redrawing congressional lines and will undoubtedly seek to use redistricting to favor their party. Accordingly, the only thing that is certain at this point is that the midterms have the potential to shake up the power structure in Congress and will ultimately make it either easier or more difficult for President Biden to advance his agenda.

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With all of the changes within Washington, D.C., it’s important to have someone who knows how to navigate the rapidly-evolving landscape and advocate for your business. Let me help you by providing strategic guidance that positions your business for success in these turbulent times. If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

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About Author Edward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward “Teddy” Eynon is Managing Partner of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Washington, D.C. office. Teddy regularly represents clients in numerous government-related matters, including public policy, energy and environment, budget, defense, healthcare, financial services, transportation & infrastructure, congressional investigations, and oversight issues.

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