Going, going, gone: Could the Republicans’ slim House majority slip away before November?

The crack of Louisville Slugger ash bats connecting with rawhide baseballs laced in Costa Rica will soon echo throughout ballparks all over North America. A dulcet-toned announcer will lunge forward from his seat in the press box, perched three tiers above home plate. The announcer will squint, looking to see if the ball hooks just inside the foul pole several hundred feet away down the right field line. “Going! Going! Gone!” he’ll chirp as the ball hugs the pole, staying just fair. The ball then caroms wildly, around an array of seats, concrete and fumbling fans, bouncing like it’s been triggered by a paddle in an arcade pinball machine. Perhaps the House of Representatives could hire some of those baseball announcers here on Capitol Hill.WHITE HOUSE BLASTS HOUSE GOP BUDGET, SAYS BIDEN WON’T LET THEM ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’It’s quite possible the Republican House majority is “going, going.” Gone is another question. But the scenario of Democrats seizing control of the House is emerging as a distinct possibility. Control of the House of Representatives has never flipped in the middle of a Congress. But if it’s going to happen, the 118th Congress is as ripe for that possibility.House Republicans face chaos in their conference. Members who planned to retire next January are now ditching Capitol Hill early. The House is an acrimonious place with yet another move afoot to dethrone the Speaker. FOX is told that other Republicans are angling to get out as soon as they can. A big payday in the private sector could lure some members to cash in their voting cards early.First, let’s talk about the length of a given “Congress.” Congress is called “Congress” because that’s when House members and senators convene in Washington. The word “Congress” means “coming together.” So lawmakers are here at the Capitol for the 118th time since starting the 1st Congress in 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City. Voters elected House members and about a third of all senators to the present 118th Congress in November 2022. Each “Congress” begins at noon ET on January 3 and runs until 11:59 am et on January 3 two years later. So the 118th Congress launched on January 3 of 2023. It expires in the late morning of January 3 next year. Thus, the term of all House members which began last year runs out at the same time next January. Those elected this November will serve in the 119th Congress beginning next January 3.House Republicans thought they might have a 50-seat majority in January 2023. They gained control of the House – but only by a handful of seats. The meager majority then dithered for five days before finally electing former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as their leader.The rancorous Speaker’s race foreshadowed what was to come. CONGRESSIONAL DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION OFFICE SHUT DOWN BY $1.2T GOVERNMENT FUNDING DEALMcCarthy was done by October. The House burned more than three weeks electing House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., as McCarthy’s successor. Now Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has had enough of Johnson. She’s authored a resolution to remove the Louisiana Republican for his “betrayal” of House Republicans on the latest spending bill. The House wound up passing the bill with 185 Democratic yeas – but only 101 Republican ayes. Plus Johnson violated the GOP’s internal rule which gives members a full three days to read legislation before voting. Text of the bill appeared just before 3 am ET last Thursday. The House closed the vote on the bill at 11:45 am et last Friday.Johnson signaled before the vote that he might not grant lawmakers the requisite three days to process their legislation.”There’s nothing sacred about 72 hours. The idea is you want the legislation to be reviewed adequately by the members before they vote on it. We’re the party that believes in that principle. We’re trying to maintain it even in a time crunch,” said Johnson as he darted across Statuary Hall of the Capitol.And yet Johnson gave up on the rule so the House could approve the bill before a looming government shutdown deadline.Johnson’s gambit infuriated the right. But other Republicans weren’t upset. Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., wanted to waive the rule, adding that the House shouldn’t assign a vote “to a time.” Murphy was ready to vote right away.”What is this? A test?” asked Murphy. “Read faster.” But Greene was through with Johnson. She prepared to show the Speaker the door after the House approved the spending measure. UKRAINE AID COULD BE SAVED BY OBSCURE CONGRESSIONAL RULES, REAGAN-ERA POLITICS, BOLL WEEVILS AND GYPSY MOTHS”I do not wish to inflict pain on our conference and throw the House into chaos,” said Greene. “But I am saying the clock has started. It’s time for our conference to choose a new Speaker.”But Greene might not even get the chance to boot Johnson. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the House could flip control to the Democrats before 11:59 am et next January 3rd. In other words, during this Congress.It’s about the math.Former Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., resigned last Friday. Buck hit the door after refusing to vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., also refused to impeach Mayorkas. Gallagher initially planned to stay until January. But now the Wisconsin Republican departs on April 19. That’s immediately after the date which mandates a special election in Wisconsin. But since Gallagher checks out in mid-April, the seat remains empty until after the election. So after Bucks’s resignation, the House breakdown looks like this: 431 members. 218 Republicans. 213 Democrats. A margin of five seats. But the GOP can only lose two votes on any given issue without assistance from the other side. After Gallagher leaves, the breakdown slips to 430 members with 217 Republicans and 213 Democrats. That’s a four-seat margin. But the GOP can only lose one vote then. By rule, tie votes lose in the House. And things grow even darker for Republicans.There’s a special election in western New York in late April to replace former Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who also retired early. Democrats are expected to hold that seat. So, for our purposes, score that as a net pickup of one for the Democrats. That means the House would have 431 members. But 216 Republicans and 214 Democrats.  Republicans may secure a little breathing room after a May 21 special election runoff in California to succeed McCarthy. That seat likely goes to the GOP.But FOX is told other Republicans are fed up and could leave before the end of the Congress. Some are just exasperated. Others don’t want to be here for the presidential election and face reporters peppering them in the halls with questions about the latest comments from former President Trump. Others have had it with their colleagues. The Senate flipped control from Republicans to Democrats midway through the 107th Congress in 2001. In fact, there was one weird anomaly in the Senate in the 1950s. Democrats had more seats than Republicans at one point – but remained in the “minority.” But the House has never changed control mid-Congress.”House Republicans do have to be worried about holding their majority,” said Darrell West of the Brookings Institution. “It would be extraordinarily unusual. I mean, stuff like that just does not happen. But it shows the extent of the dysfunction –  the divisions within the Republican House caucus.” This is why House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., characterized House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., as the “leader of the Congress” last week.”His title may not be Speaker of the House,” said Aguilar. “But he has the votes. He has the confidence of a significant portion of members.”But, if a few more Republicans step down? At this rate, Jeffries could be Speaker of the House before it’s all over. Somewhere, you can hear the crack of the bat. Is the Republican majority going, going, gone? Unpack your binoculars. Follow the flight of the ball. And watch what unfolds over the next couple of months.
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