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U.S. House control hangs on tight races after Democrats win Senate

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Control of the U.S. House of Representatives hinged on Monday on several tight races that could secure a majority for Republicans following midterm elections that saw President Joe Biden’s Democrats beat expectations and retain the Senate.

Republicans were closer to taking the House, having won 212 seats compared to Democrats’ 206, with 218 needed for a majority. But the final outcome might not be known for days as officials continue counting ballots nearly a week after Americans went to the polls.

After clinching the Senate over the weekend and dispelling Republican hopes for a “red wave” of gains, Democrats portrayed their performance as vindication of their agenda and a rebuke of Republican efforts to undermine the validity of election results.

Other high-profile uncalled races include the Arizona governor contest, in which Republican Kari Lake, who promoted former President Donald Trump’s baseless 2020 election fraud claims, was trailing her Democratic opponent by one percentage point.

There are still some 17 outstanding House races, with Republicans leading vote counts in a dozen of them. Edison Research on Monday projected Republican Lori Chavez-Deremer the winner in Oregon’s 5th district, flipping a previously Democratic-held seat.

The Democrats’ narrow path to victory largely runs through liberal California, which has 10 of the uncalled seats.

Democrats also might also need to eke out victories in tight contests in Maine, Alaska and Arizona to preserve their slim majority in the chamber.

A Republican victory in the House would set the stage for two years of divided government while giving Biden’s opponents the power to limit his political agenda and launch potentially damaging probes into his administration and family.

Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, said he expects his party to win a slim majority in the 435-seat chamber and serve as “the last line of defense to block the Biden agenda,” while launching probes into the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origin of COVID and pandemic lockdowns.

“That has to be a focal point of every single committee in the Congress, especially in the House under Republican control,” Banks told Fox News on Sunday.

The Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said on Sunday she would not make any announcements about whether she planned to remain in leadership until after control of the chamber was decided.

There had been speculation Pelosi would resign if Democrats lost their majority, especially after her husband was attacked by an intruder at their San Francisco home last month.

Democrats, having secured Senate control with a win by Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto on Saturday, are shifting focus to a Georgia run-off contest that could strengthen their hand in Congress.

A Democratic victory in the Dec. 6 run-off between Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker would give the party outright majority control, bolstering its sway over committees, bills, and judicial picks.

The Nevada win put Democrats in charge of a 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

Even if Republicans win a narrow majority in the House, Democrats’ performance suggests they had success in portraying their opponents as extremists, pointing in part to the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate a nationwide right to abortion following conservative appointments to the bench.

But the results have also have led to increased scrutiny on Trump, who used his popularity among hard-right conservatives to influence the candidates Republicans nominated for congressional, gubernatorial and local races.

A Republican loss in Georgia could further dampen Trump’s popularity as advisers say he considers kicking off a third consecutive run for the presidency on Tuesday. He has been blamed for boosting candidates unable to appeal to a wide enough audience.

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Staff process ballots for the U.S. midterm elections at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Staff adjudicate ballots for the U.S. midterm elections at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake arrives for a campaign stop on the Arizona First GOTV Bus Tour, ahead of the midterm elections, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/