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Democrats projected to retain House majority

Democrats projected to retain House majority
© Bonnie Cash

Democrats are projected to maintain their House majority in Tuesday's elections, but so far appear to be falling short of expectations that they would significantly expand upon their gains in the suburbs from two years ago.

Most of the competitive House races had not yet been called as of midnight Wednesday.

But multiple networks projected that Democrats would keep the lower chamber on Tuesday night.

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At the same time, the first competitive House races to be called indicated that Republicans were managing to defend seats in top battlegrounds and unseat numerous Democratic incumbents. House Democratic leaders, meanwhile, had predicted a net gain of as much as 15 seats in recent days.

The presidential race does not yet have a clear winner either, with multiple swing states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin still finalizing their vote counts.

Democratic hopes of a blowout have also fallen short in the race for the Senate. Only two GOP Senate incumbents have been ousted so far, while Republicans held off Democratic challenges in red states like Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina.

Democrats have so far flipped two open House seats in North Carolina, which were expected to turn blue due to redistricting.

But five first-term Democrats who had flipped seats from red to blue in 2018, Florida Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellTrump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread The Memo: Democrats see warning signs beyond 2020 MORE and Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaBiden's new challenge: Holding Trump accountable Trump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba Florida Rep.-elect Elvira Salazar tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, as well as Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornThe US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (Okla.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamWe lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Coalition of 7 conservative House Republicans says they won't challenge election results MORE (S.C.) and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) were expected to lose reelection.

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Mucarsel-Powell and Shalala had both had been favored to win reelection heading into Tuesday, but both appeared to have narrowly lost to their GOP challengers in their southern Florida districts that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats McConnell last spoke to Trump on Dec. 15 MORE had handily carried in 2016. Horn, Torres Small and Cunningham faced uphill battles in traditionally GOP districts that President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE won four years ago.

And in another blow to Democrats, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D-Minn.) was projected to lose reelection after 15 terms to Republican Michelle Fischbach in a district that Trump had carried by 30 points.

Numerous GOP lawmakers in races considered highly competitive ultimately prevailed on Tuesday night, including Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisCapitol Police tribute turns political Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote MORE (Ill.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Top GOP lawmaker touts 'more flexible' PPP loans in bipartisan proposal MORE (Ohio), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerCapitol Police tribute turns political Trump era bows out with scorched-earth drama in divided GOP Democrats projected to retain House majority MORE (Mo.), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulKremlin: US statements about pro-Navalny protests show 'direct support for the violation of the law' Thousands detained at pro-Navalny rallies in Moscow Cheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency MORE (Texas) and French HillJames (French) French HillOversight committee member questions Treasury Department's approval of 0M loan to shipping firm House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Mnuchin faces heat over coronavirus rescue loan to trucking company MORE (Ark.).

Democrats also fell short in some open seat races in Virginia and Texas that had been considered competitive.

In addition, Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosFive centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker AOC v. Pelosi: Round 12? MORE (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was locked in a tight race in a district that Trump carried in 2016.

Democrats currently hold 232 seats, while Republicans hold 197. The one independent currently serving in the House, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashRepublicans eye primaries in impeachment vote Michigan GOP lawmaker says he's 'strongly considering' impeachment Newly sworn in Republican House member after Capitol riot: 'I regret not bringing my gun to D.C.' MORE (Mich.), is not seeking reelection.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Sen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) is expected to be reelected to another term leading House Democrats after becoming Trump’s chief antagonist over the past two years.

It’s a contrast from two years ago when Democrats regained the House after eight years of GOP control. Pelosi was still favored to continue leading House Democrats at the time, but a number of candidates in competitive districts had distanced themselves from her or even declared that they wouldn't back her for Speaker.

A small group of Pelosi detractors tried to prevent her from taking the Speaker’s gavel but were unable to recruit a challenger. Only 12 Democrats ultimately voted for candidates for Speaker besides Pelosi in January 2019, while three voted “present.”  

Pelosi has led House Democrats since 2003 and is one of just seven Speakers in history to regain the gavel after serving a period in the minority.

If Democrats also take control of the Senate, they will have unified control across the Capitol to pursue legislative priorities such as health care, infrastructure, police reform and gun control. 

House Democrats had passed a variety of bills over the past two years reflecting the party’s platform, including to expand background checks for gun sales, raise the minimum wage to $15 and establish a path to citizenship for certain immigrants without legal status.

Those bills were all ignored by the GOP-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (R-Ky.) embraced calling himself the “Grim Reaper” and blocking Democrats’ agenda.

If Trump wins reelection, the House will continue to serve as a counterbalancing branch of government that pursues investigations into his administration and blocks his legislative priorities.

Democrats are set to build upon the historic diversity from the class of lawmakers that propelled the party into the House majority in 2018. The 2018 class included a record 36 women and 24 racial minorities.

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For the first time, it’s expected there will be openly gay Black members of Congress: incoming New York Democratic Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres.

The so-called “Squad” of four progressive congresswomen who first won election in 2018 — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBernie Sanders has been most-followed member of Congress on social media for six years Meghan McCain responds to Katie Couric: 'I don't need to be deprogrammed' Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyBelfast's Troubles echo in today's Washington Federal government carries out 13th and final execution under Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (D-Mass.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Overnight Energy: EPA rule exempts many polluting industries from future air regulations | Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report | Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report MORE (D-Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats poised to impeach Trump again Pence opposes removing Trump under 25th Amendment: reports Pelosi vows to impeach Trump again — if Pence doesn't remove him first MORE (D-Minn.) — will have additional allies when the new session of Congress begins in January.

Three progressive Democrats who won primary challenges this year over sitting Democratic incumbents — Cori Bush of Missouri, Marie Newman of Illinois and Jamaal Bowman of New York — are expected to take office in January. Jones also had initially launched a primary challenge against House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency This week: Trump's grip on Hill allies faces test Trump signs .3T relief, spending package MORE (D-N.Y.), who eventually announced her retirement last year.