Congress paralyzed by unresolved midterm races

Welcome to government in limbo.

The control of both Congress chambers is not called, and House Democrats’ long-standing leadership calculations are temporarily suspended. Two crucial Senate races are being analyzed with molasses-like speed. A Georgia runoff in December could decide control of the chamber if Democrats fail to win either of these races.

Congress will be returning to Washington next week for post-election legislating. The unpredictability of the outcome could affect plans for what could prove stressful, regardless of whether it is a midterm or not.

“It’s going be an uncertain environment,” stated Rep. Gerry Connolly (D.Va.). He still sees a way for Democrats to keep both chambers, but is encouraging his party colleagues to think large in the lame duck.

“This window is where we can accomplish a lot of important things with confidence. Connolly said that we still have the two majorities. “We might very well have them in Jan too, but that’s uncertain.”

When the election results are announced, they could have an impact on the end-of-year agenda. This includes federal funding fights and other unfinished business. Democrats who hold the Senate may be able to focus on legislation, while still retaining power in the House. If Senate Democrats worry about losing control of the chamber, they will likely pivot to confirming as many President Joe Biden’s nominations as possible.

Senators. Mark Kelly (D.Ariz.) and Catherine Cortez Masto(D.Nev.) are both speaking to Sens. Schumer won another term this week and spent the next two days calling senators and advisers to get updates about whether he will have Senate control next year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walked into the Capitol empty on Thursday to punctuate the uncertainty and noted that there was not much else to do except hold on.

“I’m just like you. McConnell stated, “I’m just watching and waiting until they finish counting the votes.” McConnell then observed one concrete reality: “Schumer is still the majority leader up to the end of this year.”

According to operatives from both parties, Kelly is most likely to win Arizona. The consensus is much less on Cortez Masto’s race in Nevada against GOP rival Adam Laxalt. If it fails, it could decide whether Democrats have the majority or not.

Senior Republican strategist stated that there are “still a lot good votes out there for Republicans to be counted, and we’re optimistic about Laxalt.” Democrats are similarly positive about Cortez Masto. A Nevadan who worked on statewide races said that outstanding ballots from the state’s two cities were “breaking for Catherine enough to put her over the top.”

The GOP holds a narrow majority in the House. Kevin McCarthy has officially launched his campaign to be speaker. It’s possible, however, that the House could reconvene next week without knowing who will be holding the gavel next year, given the existence of dozens uncalled races on the West Coast, especially California.

“Compared to how it felt last weekend?” “I feel great,” stated Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. “The fact it’s only two days since the election and we still have no idea who is in the majority of the House?” It’s remarkable.”

All this uncertainty could impact efforts to put together a huge spending bill before the Dec. 16 deadline, which is currently being used for government shutdown. Both parties’ leaders wanted to prioritise that legislation following the election. However, it could be determined by how Republicans feel about their chances of unified control next year.

“Obviously, the House wants it done in Congress, and Republicans don’t,” stated retiring Rep. John Yormuth (D.Ky.). “It really is a matter of whether or not the Senate can act.”

The Senate is slower than the House and so unfinished business weighs heavily on its post-election schedule. Democrats hope to pass the spending bill and enshrine same sex marriage protections. They also want to reform the Electoral Count Act which governs presidential election certification.

The filibuster means there is no guarantee that all will be accomplished, especially as Republicans seek a favorable Senate battleground map for 2024.

“I’m for Shelley Moore Capito’s version of the permit bill, not Joe Manchin,” stated Sen. John Barrasso (R–Wyo). His party’s top representative on the energy committee. “Why would you need this for Joe Manchin in West Virginia?” … He was Joe Biden’s rubber stamp. In West Virginia, he’ll be held responsible. He will be on the 2024 ballot.

Across the Capitol, there is a slim chance that Democrats could achieve the political-gravity-defying feat of hanging onto their majority. This would be a shock to both parties, especially in the lower chamber where many Democrats had been secretly preparing for the minority, despite months of optimistic predictions by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her leadership team.

Pelosi, widely expected to reveal her future plans after Nov. 8th, instead went to Egypt for a summit on global climate change. The House is still not clear.

House Majority Leader Steny (D.Md.) received no signals from Pelosi and her top deputies. Jim Clyburn , House Majority Whip (D.S.C.), and there is still no public jockey over who will take their place at the top of the caucus.

On Thursday, Democrats scheduled their Nov. 30 leadership elections. However, the group of Democrats who want to succeed their “Big Three” won’t be able to know the position they are running for until the majority has been determined. That’s assuming Pelosi and Hoyer decide to quit the top three positions.

The race for the Democrats’ campaign arm, which is now open after sitting chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D.N.Y.) lost his election battle, has yet to get off the ground. As they wait for a House call, the two California Democrats who were expected to compete for the position, Reps. Tony Cardenas, and Amibera are still mum.

Although a smaller shakeup is expected to occur on the Senate side of the aisle, some Republicans are calling for the party’s reorientation. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Sen. Ron Johnson (R.Wis.), stated that rank-and-file members should only vote for leaders who promise to pass a budget that is fiscally conservative.

Caitlin Emma contributed reporting.

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