We take a look at how the balance of power between the Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, and consider how Donald Trump’s fresh bid for the White House is landing with the GOP.
AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:
There are recounts and a runoff still in the works nearly two weeks after the midterm elections. But the numbers in the House and Senate are essentially holding steady. We’re joined now by NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Good morning.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, Ayesha.
RASCOE: So Democrats have maintained control of the Senate. Republicans have taken the House. But with such thin majorities, what will this mean for actually getting things done in January when in Congress, it’s always hard to get something done?
MONTANARO: Yeah, we’re talking about divided government, so not much likely to get done without compromise. But that hasn’t exactly been Congress’s MO, especially for House Republicans over the last decade plus. So expect a pretty confrontational Republican House here. You know, going to see Kevin McCarthy, the congressman from California who wants to be speaker. He or anyone else who wants to be speaker – they’re going to have to make some pretty steep concessions to the hard right in their party. So that will not incentivize getting much done across the aisle.
Instead, we’re likely to see, I think, a lot of spectacle, investigations, including about the president’s son, Hunter Biden, the IRS, even potential impeachments of Biden administration officials. Of course, none of that is going to go anywhere in the Democratic Senate, but Republicans are going to try to grab some headlines for sure. Meanwhile, Democrats – you know, it’ll be a new generation of leaders stepping forward for the first time in 20 years. Nancy Pelosi’s stepping down as the head of the party’s caucus in the House. And being in the minority, it’s not a bad time for a leadership shift. It’ll give Democrats a chance to work out the kinks. They’ll have a common enemy in Republicans to unify them. Pelosi is still sticking around, so she’ll be there to advise them. And, you know, she’s going to go down as one of the most effective speakers in history.
RASCOE: So what are some of the priorities for the lame duck session?
MONTANARO: A lot of things on the on the plate here. You know, Democrats are going to try and address a bunch of things. The debt ceiling, for example – they may try to make it automatic. Not sure they have the votes to do that, but they’re going to try. That would take away what could be a really key piece of leverage for House Republicans come January who are going to try and force some spending cuts by threatening the nation’s credit, really. They’ve also just simply got to fund the government. So expect an attempt to get what they call an omnibus spending bill through that could have a lot of Christmas ornaments on it.
MONTANARO: Little priorities for each district and state. Another priority is passing the National Defense Authorization Act, aid to Ukraine. We could see a push to codify same-sex marriage. That’s being negotiated with a bipartisan group and the Senate. Democrats also likely to make a push on a fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Federal courts are expected to end that executive order that was originally issued by President Obama a decade ago. You know, more than 600,000 people who were brought to the U.S. when they were children are currently shielded from deportation under the program. So pretty big deal. Lots to do.
RASCOE: And that’s DACA that you’re referring to, right?
RASCOE: And so and there are some – you know, still some recounts and potential challenges to some results in the works. Like, what are you watching for there?
MONTANARO: You know, everything’s basically wrapped up. I mean, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s Colorado district is headed to an automatic recount, even though her opponent has already conceded. Only about 500 votes separate them. But I have to say Adam Frisch, who’s the Democrat former Aspen City councilman – he’s already filed to run again in 2024. So you can bet it’s going to be a lot of money that comes into that race, you know, in – over the next couple of years. Arizona, of course, you know, has been something of a hotbed for election denialism. You know, Trump Republicans, you know, like Kari Lake refusing to concede the governor’s race there, even though she lost by over 17,000 votes. Very close but outside the 0.5 percentage point margin for an automatic recount. She says she’s amassing a team of lawyers to challenge the result. It’s, of course, her right, but this has been a very closely watched tabulation – no evidence of widespread fraud. Probably not the last time we’ve heard of Lake, though. She was spotted at former President Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.
RASCOE: In just a few seconds we have left, speaking of Trump, he did announce for the presidential campaign in 2024. There’s also a special prosecutor that was named to investigate him this week. What does that mean for Republicans?
MONTANARO: Yeah, they really did not want him to necessarily announce right now, especially after a slate of his candidates had lost. So it’s going to be really interesting to watch how that winds up affecting things and if anybody else gets in the race.
RASCOE: That’s NPR’s Domenico Montanaro.
Thank you so much, Domenico.
MONTANARO: You’re welcome.
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