Republicans managed to make their victory in the House seem like a loss by underperforming so badly. But while they did not win control by anywhere near the margin that they anticipated, they did win. And in the House, even the barest majority can work its will if it can hold together to produce 218 votes.
The main question going forward is whether Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, who was nominated on Tuesday to lead the new Republican majority, can achieve the unity necessary to perform fundamental tasks such as funding the government, or whether unyielding far-right members will make the new speaker’s life miserable and the House an unmanageable mess.
The likely single-digit-seat victory will allow Republicans to claim power — including subpoena power — set the agenda, run the committees and try to hold President Biden’s feet to the fire with a string of promised investigations.
Despite their underwhelming showing, Republicans are unlikely to be chastened into cooperating with Mr. Biden and no doubt will plunge ahead aggressively once they get their hands on the gavels. For many, that was the point of the election. Their agenda is investigative, not legislative.
“We must be relentless in our oversight of this administration,” Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, wrote in a letter to colleagues. “From the politicization of the Justice Department to the job-crushing regulations coming from every agency, we need to shine a bright light on the actions and policy failures of this administration.” [Continue reading…]