House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was confident heading into the 2020 election about new gains in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately for her, the Democrats’ majority gets thinner by the day.
According to The Hill, Democrats will go into the 117th Congress with the slimmest margin in recent history in the House, thanks to their electoral underperformance and at least two Representatives leaving to serve in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) will leave the House to head the White House Office of Public Engagement while Marcia Fudge (D-OH) will depart in order to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Democrats’ lead in the House has dwindled to 220-213, which makes passing legislation could be difficult. Any bill could be killed if even as few as four members side with the GOP, which worries House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
“I’m certainly concerned by the slimming of the majority,” Hoyer said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “I have indicated to the administration very early on that I wanted them to be very careful in terms of the members that they appointed from the Congress given the closeness of our majority.”
Pelosi publicly downplayed concerns about Biden mining for his cabinet members in the bare-bones House, but the numbers don’t lie. Even though Richmond and Fudge don’t have to worry about their seats flipping in their heavily-blue districts, their razor-thin majority could complicate other appointments to the incoming Biden administration.
“One practical implication of the narrow majority is we’ve got a lot of talented folks that I think we’d all like to see in a Biden administration,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) told the Hill. However, he went on to say that he’s not sure they “can afford to lose too many bodies, even for a short term until you have a special election.” The Democrats thought they’d walk away with the House of Representatives and wouldn’t have to worry, but the GOP netted 10 seats and flipped at least 13 Democratic incumbents’ districts, leaving the party in this precarious position.
Possibly the most significant consequence of such a close margin is that it may endanger Pelosi’s position as Speaker of the House. During the vote two years ago, fifteen Democrats opposed her which could spell trouble this time around. The new vote will convene Jan. 3, but Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin has already vowed to oppose Pelosi.
In a weird anomaly, President Donald Trump lost his re-election but somehow picked up these seats in Congress. President-elect Joe Biden will likely be sworn in as the new president next month anyway, but Democrats certainly don’t have the mandate they were hoping for going into Election Day.