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A week after Election Day, Republicans have won control of the House

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right. Well, more than one week after Election Day, Republicans have won control of the House of Representatives. That is according to the Associated Press, which NPR relies on for its calls. California's 27th Congressional District was won by Republican incumbent Mike Garcia, which gave Republicans the 218 seats that they needed to clinch control of the House. Now, there are a handful of races still to be decided that will determine the margin by which Republicans will have control, but the GOP will hold a slim majority.

Joining us now to talk about all of this is NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh. Hey, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK. So Republicans have the 218. What else do we need to know here?

WALSH: Well, it took a little longer than they thought, but Republicans have eked out enough gains to secure 218 House seats. That's a majority in the House. Democrats right now have 209. As you said, there are still eight uncalled races. But if their current lead holds, Republicans are going to wind up with a 221-seat majority. That's just a three-seat majority in the House.

CHANG: Wow.

WALSH: That is not the red wave that Republicans predicted.

CHANG: No.

WALSH: Right. But this is still a significant win for them. And it means Washington is once again going to have divided government. But this is a very narrow majority. It's going to make things very hard to pass in terms of legislation or even govern starting in January unless Republicans have total unity.

CHANG: Yeah, a very narrow majority. OK. So what pitfalls will Republicans have to navigate with such a narrow majority in the chamber? And what does that mean for President Biden?

WALSH: Right. Well, the House speaker, who could be California Republican Kevin McCarthy, is really going to have little room for error trying to unite the far right and more moderate wings of his party to keep them all on the same page. We've already seen that dynamic in the leadership election where, yesterday, 31 conservatives opposed McCarthy's nomination for speaker. He did win the nomination inside the Republican conference, but he still has to be elected on the House floor in January with a majority of the full House. McCarthy's still working to get those votes. But the Republican House next year is expected to clash on pretty much every issue with the Democratic Senate. We're going to see fights over basic functions like funding the government or raising the nation's debt limit.

As for President Biden, it means his legislative agenda is essentially kind of dead. He's going to be playing defense. McCarthy has already been - put out this agenda that called for rolling back some of the president's key accomplishments. The first vote next year is expected to be to repeal a bill that boosted money for the IRS, lowered prescription drug prices, invested in climate programs. But Biden does have a Democratic Senate to act as a firewall. In a statement earlier tonight, the president did congratulate Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, saying he was, quote, "ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families."

CHANG: OK. So I'm curious, Deirdre. Over the next two years, are we going to be looking at lots and lots of investigations led by House Republicans? Is that what we're expecting?

WALSH: We sure are. There's going to be an onslaught of investigations on a very wide range of issues. Republicans who are going to chair committees are now going to be able to issue subpoenas. That's a big deal. The administration is going to have to respond to a lot of requests for documents and testimony.

Already tomorrow, the chairs of two committees, House Oversight and Judiciary, are having a press conference to lay out evidence they say they've already gathered regarding President Biden's son. I talked to Congressman James Comer, who chairs the Oversight Committee. He says it's a possibility they subpoena Hunter Biden. There's also going to be probes on the president's border policies, the origins of the coronavirus and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

CHANG: That is NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thank you so much, Deirdre.

WALSH: Thanks, Ailsa.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHAD CROUCH'S "SOLAN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deidra Walsh