Dem wins leave behind a more conservative GOP conference

Tuesday’s blue wave in the House is set to leave behind a GOP conference that is far more conservative — and more loyal to President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE.

A large chunk of centrist Republicans were either wiped out at the polls on Tuesday or are planning to retire at the end of this Congress, while the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus is actually expected to expand its ranks next year.

That means that when Republicans assume their new role in the minority, the GOP will largely be unified as they rally against the Democratic agenda and defend Trump from an onslaught of investigations and hearings.

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“We’re gonna have a lot of House members Grahamified,” said an aide to a conservative lawmaker, referring to Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says FBI chief 'committed to being helpful' after Trump criticism Democrat flips GOP-held state House seat in South Carolina Ron Johnson signals some GOP senators concerned about his Obama-era probes MORE (R-S.C.). “He was decidedly anti-Trump, but then Democrats crossed the threshold of what was responsible and reasonable.”

Now, Graham is one of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill.

“You’re going to see the Graham effect,” the aide predicted.

House Democrats seized back control of the House on Tuesday by flipping a large number of seats held by moderate Republicans, including Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanColorado mayor says he called protesters 'domestic terrorists' out of 'frustration' Colorado governor directs officials to reexamine death of Elijah McClain in police custody Petition demanding justice for Elijah McClain surpasses 2 million signatures MORE of Colorado, Leonard LanceLeonard LanceThomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Gun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs MORE of New Jersey and Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Memo: GOP cringes at new Trump race controversy Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Republicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea MORE of Florida.

And the GOP’s most prominent and outspoken centrist voices — including Reps. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloTrump struggles to stay on script, frustrating GOP again Bottom line Former GOP Rep. Costello launches lobbying shop MORE (Pa.) and Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenTechNet hires Hispanic communications director Bottom line Women are refusing to take the backseat in politics, especially Latinas MORE (Fla.) and former Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: WHO vs. Trump; Bernie's out The biggest political upsets of the decade Ex-GOP lawmaker: Former colleagues privately say they're 'disgusted and exhausted' by Trump MORE (Pa.) — decided to head for the exits instead of face tough reelection battles in their swing districts.

“The Republican herd has been culled. And the culling was the more moderate members,” said the GOP aide. “The center of gravity in the conference has moved to the right.”

Meanwhile, a new crop of conservatives won election, including Chip Roy, whom Politico once described as the “next Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFiorina: Biden picking Harris for VP 'a smart choice' Russian news agency pushed video of Portland protestors burning a Bible: report After trillions in tax cuts for the rich, Republicans refuse to help struggling Americans MORE” (R-Texas); Denver Riggleman, a Trump-endorsed businessman in Virginia; Mark Green, who ran on a small government platform in Tennessee; and Ron Wright, who will replace retiring Freedom Caucus member Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonBottom line Ex-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street Longtime GOP aide to launch lobbying shop MORE (R-Texas).

The Freedom Caucus, a band of roughly 30 hard-liners, lost two of its members Tuesday, but is still expecting to net upwards of five members in the new Congress.

And with a slimmer caucus, that means the group — which has torpedoed GOP-backed bills to get what they want — will make up a larger percentage of the overall conference.

But, as a source close to the caucus pointed out, all Republicans will end up using similar obstructionist tactics once they are no longer in power.

“Everybody acts like the Freedom Caucus when you’re in the minority,” the source said.

Several Capitol Hill sources predicted that the GOP conference, where infighting between competing factions has spilled into public view for years, would band together against the Democrats’ priorities. And some of the ideas supported by the left will give Republicans plenty to dislike, from Medicare for All to a $15 minimum wage.

The biggest points of contention among House Republicans have stemmed from when they have actually tried to put pen to paper on certain issues, such as repealing and replacing ObamaCare — something the GOP campaigned on for years. The health-care debate illustrated that it’s far easier to be against an idea than come up with actual policy solutions that everyone can agree on. 

“Republicans were more united when they were on defense then when they were on offense,” said Rep. Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonGOP-Trump fractures on masks open up House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (R-Ohio), a member of the Freedom Caucus, referring to the last time the GOP was in the minority. “That’s just the challenge of offense. I’m sure Democrats will deal with that.”

Since winning back the House, Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSusan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail' Trump says he'd sign bill funding USPS but won't seek changes to help mail voting On The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' MORE (D-Calif.) outlined several areas of common ground where she hopes to work with Trump and Republicans next year, including an infrastructure package and lowering prescription drug prices.

But a more conservative GOP caucus may be more inclined to throw bombs than cut deals, not making life any easier for the Democrats who hope to notch some bipartisan legislative wins ahead of 2020.

Davidson, however, noted that some Republicans may be willing to work across the aisle on certain issues, especially if Trump is leading the push.

“There may be coalitions where some Republicans will work with Democrats,” Davidson said. “But it’s issue by issue.”

Democrats are itching to use their new subpoena powers to investigate the Trump administration, including scrutinizing the recent ouster of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHow would a Biden Justice Department be different? Kamala Harris: The right choice at the right time Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris MORE and getting their hands on Trump’s tax returns and bank records.

“That will unite a lot of people in opposition to their actions, if that’s the play call,” Davidson said.

Democrats will also be under immense pressure from the liberal base to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, though party leaders have kept the idea at arm’s length.

Still, if Democrats are seen as overstepping their bounds with their newfound subpoena powers, some Capitol Hill sources predicted that Republicans — even those who have not publicly embraced the president very tightly — may unite in their defense of Trump.

“Democrats are going to jump the shark. Everyone knows that they’re gonna go overboard,” the aide to the conservative lawmaker said. If so, the aide said it may surprise the public to see which lawmakers come out to back the president.

And with the loss of so many outspoken moderates, there will be less voices in the party willing to challenge the president.

Trump, who has repeatedly attacked lawmakers who challenge him, seemed to relish in the fact that some of his Republican critics lost their reelection bids.

“You had some that decided to, let’s stay away, let’s stay away. They did very poorly,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House. “I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.”