House goes red; Senate GOP sticks with Mitch McConnell as leader: recap

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Republicans won majority control of the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, a blow for Democrats and creating a major roadblock for President Joe Biden's agenda for the next two years.

Rep. Mike Garcia's victory in California’s 27th Congressional District gave Republicans the 218th seat needed for control of the House, despite disappointing midterm results for the GOP that saw Democrats keep control of the Senate.

Sen. Mitch McConnell will continue in his role as Senate minority leader for another session of Congress, after his reelection to the post on Wednesday. McConnell bested his only challenger, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, gaining three-quarters of the vote.

All of this is happening in the context of former President Donald Trump: He announced Tuesday night that he would make a third bid for the White House, despite mounting criticism from Republicans about being a drag on the ticket.

WASHINGTON, DC - Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott (right) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listen during a news conference after a policy luncheon with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on Sept. 7, 2022. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott (right) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listen during a news conference after a policy luncheon with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on Sept. 7, 2022. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Here are the latest updates:

What the House results mean for the Republicans

With Republicans officially winning the House Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi will not be speaker when the new Congress is sworn in Jan. 3. Her deputy chief of staff tweeted late Tuesday that "the Speaker plans to address her future plans (Thursday) to her colleagues."

The new GOP majority will usher in a new group of leaders in Washington. If elected to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the top post, Kevin McCarthy would lead what will likely be a rowdy conference of House Republicans, most of whom are aligned with Trump’s bare-knuckle brand of politics.

Many Republicans in the incoming Congress rejected the results of the 2020 presidential election, even though claims of widespread fraud were refuted by courts, elections officials and Trump’s own attorney general.

Biden administration probes: What will a Republican House look like? A lot of investigations and maybe impeachment.

McCarthy won the nomination for House speaker on Tuesday, with a formal vote to come when the new Congress convenes in January.

“I’m proud to announce the era of one-party Democrat rule in Washington is over,” McCarthy said after winning the nomination.

- Ledge King and Associated Press

Hunter Biden, the southern border, Mar-a-Lago search: GOP has long list of probes it wants to launch

With House control now in Republican hands next year, expect GOP lawmakers to start investigations on a number of fronts including Hunter Biden’s business dealings and the migrant surge on the southern border.

Control of the gavel in key committees overseeing the Biden administration means hardline conservatives will be able to probe what they’ve only been able to raise alarms about since they lost power in 2019.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, positioned to become speaker of the House, has vowed to immediately open an inquiry into the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

"When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts and leave no stone unturned," McCarthy said.

Some of the most conservative lawmakers have raised the prospect of impeaching Biden, though that will be much harder for the party to accomplish with a tight majority.

- Ledyard King and Associated Press

President Biden congratulates Kevin McCarthy on Republicans winning House Majority

President Joe Biden congratulated GOP leader Kevin McCarthy for Republicans winning control of the House of Representatives and called for bipartisanship in the next Congress to “get things done” for the American people.

“I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday night shortly after California’s House District 27 race was called for Republican Mike Garcia, giving Republicans a projected House majority.

Biden added that “the future is too promising to be trapped in political warfare,” reiterating a theme from remarks he made last week after Democrats exceeded expectations in the midterm election.

“The American people want us to get things done for them,” the president said. “They want us to focus on the issues that matter to them and on making their lives better. And I will work with anyone - Republican or Democrat - willing to work with me to deliver results for them.”

- Joey Garrison

Pelosi predicts Democratic leverage over 'scant Republican majority'

Current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was undeterred in remarks late Tuesday about GOP House control.

“This year, House Democrats defied expectations with an excellent performance: running their races with courage, optimism and determination," Pelosi said. "In the next Congress, House Democrats will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority."

She said Democrats in the House are "thrilled" to have key members returning.

"We salute our departing members for their magnificent leadership, achieving landmark progress on health care, climate action, infrastructure, gun violence, veterans and more that can never be diminished," Pelosi said.

- Christal Hayes

Republicans react to Pelosi departure as speaker

Many Republicans celebrated the victory of Mike Garcia in a California House race - the seat that gave the GOP control of the House - by preparing to get rid of Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

"Nancy Pelosi has officially been fired!" tweeted Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the party.

"Nancy Pelosi has been FIRED," a Republican National Committee research account tweeted.

- Luciana Lopez

McConnell: ‘I’m not going anywhere’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell emerged triumphant from the vote, in which he won about 75% of the tally.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

McConnell gave a smile and a thumbs up as he boarded an elevator on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

McConnell, who has been the Republican Senate leader since 2007, had faced a challenge from Florida Sen. Rick Scott following disappointing midterm election results, but said he didn’t take it personally.

“I’m not in any way offended by having an opponent or a few votes in opposition,” he said.

– Rachel Looker

Senate GOP reelects Sens. John Thune, John Barrasso; replaces Rick Scott in leadership vote

As Senate Republicans voted to keep Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as the top GOP leader, lawmakers also reelected Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., as second-in-command as whip, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., as the GOP conference chair.

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito was elected as vice chair of the GOP conference, replacing Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who was elected to serve as the party’s policy committee chair during Wednesday’s leadership vote.

The party also elected Montana Sen. Steve Daines as the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, replacing Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who challenged McConnell for the top GOP leadership role instead. Scott lost to McConnell after three-quarters of the caucus voted for the Kentucky lawmaker.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Sen. Cruz: Closed-door vote was ‘cordial discussion’

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who voted for Rick Scott, called the closed-door meeting to determine Senate leadership a “cordial” discussion.

“It was not a discussion that was focused on concessions, it was instead a largely cordial discussion, but a serious discussion about how in the minority we can effectively stop this administration's disastrous policies,” Cruz said.

He said he believes voters want bold, strong conservative leadership – and “not merely acquiescing.”

“I think for the last two years the Republican Senate Minority did not use all the tools at its disposal and I think that’s insane, so that's the position I articulated forcibly,” he said.

- Rachel Looker 

Hawley: GOP must 'do something different if we ever want to be a majority party'

Missouri Sen. Josh Harley, who voted for Rick Scott, told reporters after the meeting that the disappointing result of last week’s midterm election is reason enough for a change.

“So we had independent voters that voted for Obama and then voted for Trump who disapprove of Joe Biden," he said. "A sizable number of them stayed home rather than vote for Republican candidates. My view is that's why you look across these elections. That's why there wasn't a red wave.

“And so I asked both of the candidates: ‘Do you acknowledge that as a fact? And what do you think we need to do differently?’ Because clearly, the Republican Party's got to do something different if we ever want to be a majority party.”

Asked why he thought the overwhelming majority of the caucus stuck with McConnell, Hawley responded:  “Because the conference doesn't want to change course. They want to do what we're doing. It's working so well.”

– Ledyard King

In case you missed it: Donald Trump announces his 2024 presidential campaign as GOP debates future

Vote 37-10-1 to keep McConnell

Three-quarters of the Senate GOP conference, or 37 people, voted to keep McConnell in his leadership position. Ten voted against him, and one person abstained.

McConnell gave reporters a thumbs up at a news conference after the vote.

– Rachel Looker and Ledge King

McConnell to remain as Senate GOP leader

Senate Republicans reelected Mitch McConnell as their leader Wednesday despite grumblings among some of his GOP colleagues that the caucus needs new leadership after a poor showing in the midterms, where Democrats defied expectations by retaining their slim majority.

McConnell, who has led Senate Republicans both in the minority and the majority since 2007, faced a challenge from Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who said the caucus should be "far more bold and resolute than we have been in the past."

Scott received some support, including from Indiana Sen. Mike Braun who tweeted Tuesday that  “Hoosier conservative Republicans are sick and tired of the status quo.”

But McConnell showed how firm his grip on the caucus is. He maintained his leadership position despite a midterm election where the GOP could see its minority shrink further depending on the Dec. 6 run-off in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

– Ledyard King

Effort to delay Senate leadership vote fails

A motion to delay the vote for GOP leadership failed Wednesday morning, making it even more likely that Sen. Mitch McConnell will be reelected as leader.

Senate leaders will now make nomination speeches.

McConnell has been nominated to remain in his position by Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

– Rachel Looker

Braun: 'We’re political wallflowers' who need change at the top

The vote on whether to reelect Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader hasn’t started yet but at least one member of the opposition doesn’t believe his candidate – Florida Sen. Rick Scott – has the votes to topple the Kentucky senator.

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun said it’s important to lay down a marker on what he sees as a Republican Party that’s been flailing lately.

“So this is, I think, the start of where maybe some people want to start speaking up, unless you're completely happy with the results,” Braun said before entering the Old Senate Chamber for the vote.

He continued: “And I don't think we're generating the results politically or governmental. And I think the Democrats outmaneuver us in every election, they're always on every policy thing. And you know, we're political wallflowers. And we generally go along with what they want to do, and we don't have an agenda. We don't have a business plan.”

– Ledyard King

Senators arrive for GOP leadership elections

Republican senators began arriving for the Senate leadership election Wednesday morning.

Among those who walked into the Old Senate Chamber, where the vote will happen, included: Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, James Risch of Idaho, John Thune of South Dakota, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Braun of Indiana.

The senators will decide who will lead them in the next Congress. Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is the heavy favorite to be elected.

– Ledyard King, Rachel Looker

Who will control the House?

As of Wednesday morning, Republicans have won 217 seats and Democrats have 208 seats. Either party needs 218 for a majority. Ten seats remain uncalled.

Mitch McConnell 'welcomes' challenge from Rick Scott

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., welcomed the competition for his leadership post from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla, telling reporters during the Senate GOP news conference Tuesday, “Anybody in the conference is certainly entitled to challenge me, and I welcome the contest."

McConnell said he is confident he has the votes to keep his job, a role he’s held since 2007. "I’ll be elected,” he added.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi, Rachel Looker, Ledyard King

Rick Scott challenges Mitch McConnell for GOP leadership

Florida Sen. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he will challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the top Republican leadership spot in a letter to his colleagues, calling for a change in leadership. A leadership vote is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute than we have been in the past,” the letter said. “There is a Republican Party that is alive and well in communities across America. It is time there is one in Washington, D.C. too. That is why I am running to be Republican Leader.”

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun tweeted support for Scott on Tuesday. "I ran for Senate because we need OUTSIDERS to take on the D.C. swamp and get RESULTS," he wrote. "Hoosier conservative Republicans are sick and tired of the status quo."

–Sarah Elbeshbishi, Rachel Looker, Ledyard King

Previously: House Republicans select McCarthy as GOP leader, Scott takes on McConnell to lead Senate GOP

Kevin McCarthy to remain GOP House leader, clearing way for speakership

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected Tuesday by the GOP caucus to keep his job as Republican leader, making him the favorite to be the next speaker of the House in January. McCarthy beat back a challenge from Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.

With some races still to be called, as of Tuesday night Republicans are one seat away from taking back the House. A win would put McCarthy in position to run the chamber starting in January. The official vote for speaker won't take place until Jan. 3 when lawmakers are sworn in. If McCarthy is chosen by the full House, he will replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

– Candy Woodall, Sarah Elbeshbishi

Some opposition to McCarthy remains

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, said Tuesday he would oppose McCarthy's bid for speaker no matter what, telling reporters that there is a "critical mass" of Republicans who oppose McCarthy.

"Kevin McCarthy couldn't get 218," Gaetz said, referring to the majority of the 435-seat chamber. "He couldn't get 200 votes. He couldn't get 190 votes today. So, to believe Kevin McCarthy is going to be speaker you have to believe he's going to get votes in the next six weeks that he couldn't get in the last six years."

– Candy Woodall, Sarah Elbeshbishi

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: GOP wins House; Senate Republicans stick with leader Mitch McConnell