House Democrats’ majority shrunk as Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) is slated to be sworn into office on Wednesday.
Letlow is joining the lower chamber after her husband, Luke Letlow, died of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus earlier this year. Julia Letlow won a special election in March.
With Letlow being sworn in, Republicans have 212 seats in the House compared with the Democrats’ 218 seats. Tie votes fail in the House, which means that Democrats cannot pass legislation if three or more of their members defect and the Republican Party fully opposes them.
And specifically, with such a narrow majority, it means that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can only afford to lose two Democrat votes on a bill on any legislation opposed by all Democrats. It will leave Pelosi and her caucus with a small room for error on bills including President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, another COVID-19 stimulus bill, policing bills, or gun-control legislature.
If some moderate Democrats disagree with the party on more left-wing agenda items, such items likely won’t pass.
So far, three Democrats have left the House of Representatives to join the Biden administration, including presidential adviser Cedric Richmond, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge, and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Last week, longtime Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) died after a battle with cancer. There is one vacant seat for Republicans after Rep. Ron Wright died in February.
Four special elections are scheduled over the next several months, including three in districts that were previously held by Democrats.
A special runoff election in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District for Richmond’s seat is scheduled to be held on April 24, as the two candidates who are facing off in the district—which has been solidly Democrat for years—are both Democrat candidates. On May 1, a special election will be held in Texas’ 6th Congressional District to fill Wright’s seat, while days later, on June 1, a special election will be held for the 1st Congressional District for Haaland’s seat.
The special election for Fudge’s seat, which is in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, will not be held until Nov. 2
In the coming months, Democrats who won recently in centrist districts such as Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) or districts that were won by former President Donald Trump will be key swing votes.
But with such a small majority, it means that two Democrat members can try to veto certain legislation, while progressives can try to use their leverage to block bills they don’t view as leftist enough.
Despite this, top Democrats in the House have expressed optimism that they can push through favored bills.
“Frankly, we’re doing OK as Democrats as you look at this quarter,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in March.
Pelosi, similarly, said in March that advancing her agenda is “not going to be a problem.”
The Epoch Times has contacted House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office for comment.
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