The House G.O.P.’s Incredible Shrinking Majority


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When Republicans assumed control of the House early last year after winning a narrow majority in the 2022 midterms, Representative Earl Blumenauer, a veteran Democrat from Oregon, made a bold prediction: His party had a slight chance of reclaiming power before the next election — through sheer attrition.

Republicans commanded just a thin edge over Democrats, 222-213, Mr. Blumenauer reasoned, and typical turnover in recent years suggested that could shrink further. Plus, a certain new Republican representative from New York by the name of George Santos did not seem likely to survive a cascade of ethics issues and criminal charges.

Still, Mr. Blumenauer’s prognosticating seemed more like liberal wish-casting given the dominoes that needed to fall to fulfill it. A year later, though still highly unlikely, it suddenly doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

Day by day, thanks to an unfortunate combination of coincidence, scandal, health issues and political turmoil, the G.O.P. majority keeps getting smaller.

This week, with lawmakers absent for medical reasons and the recent not-so-voluntary departures of the ousted former speaker Kevin McCarthy and the expelled Mr. Santos, the best G.O.P. attendance that Speaker Mike Johnson can muster as he tries to avoid a government shutdown is the bare-minimum 218 votes. That is before factoring in the impact of rough winter weather across the nation.

Another Republican, Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio, is resigning as of Sunday to take a job as a university president, lowering the number to 217 if Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, the 86-year-old dean of the House, is unable to quickly return from recuperating from a car accident. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican, is out until at least next month while undergoing cancer treatment.

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The House G.O.P.’s Incredible Shrinking Majority

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