Washington — Republicans will win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, flipping control of the lower chamber from the Democrats but by a narrower margin than many expected heading into the midterm elections, according to CBS News projections.
The GOP is now projected to win between 218-223 seats, a narrow majority. Republicans needed 218 to claim the House majority. Ballots are still being counted in a handful of close races.
Though the projections indicate Republicans will prevail, their slim majority is likely to complicate House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's bid to become House speaker and provide leverage to the conservative faction of the GOP conference. In the House GOP leadership elections Tuesday, McCarthy easily defeated Freedom Caucus challenger Rep. Andy Biggs, winning 188 votes to become the party's nominee for speaker. But to win the gavel, McCarthy will need 218 votes on the House floor.
The projections indicate President Biden will face a divided Congress in the second half of his first term in office, with Democrats having secured the Senate. The dynamic will complicate efforts by the president to make progress on more divisive areas of his policy agenda, such as enshrining the right to an abortion into federal law and voting rights legislation. A GOP-controlled House is also poised to launch investigations, with targets including Hunter Biden, the president's son, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Some Republicans have threatened to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the southern border.
Mr. Biden acknowledged the challenging political landscape of a House led by Republicans, telling reporters in Bali, Indonesia, this week that he does not believe there are enough votes to protect abortion access unless something "unusual" happens in the House.
Still, the president, buoyed by the midterm results, hailed the elections as evidence of the "strength and resilience of American democracy."
"The American people prove once again that democracy is who we are," Mr. Biden said. "There was a strong rejection of election deniers at every level from those seeking to lead our states and those who are seeking to serve in Congress, and also those seeking to oversee the elections. And there was a strong rejection of political violence and voter intimidation."