Key events

The incoming Republican leader of the Oversight Committee has just announced that they’ll use its investigative powers to look into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and what Joe Biden knows about them, Punchbowl News reports:

James Comer, top R on House Oversight: “The president’s participation in enriching his family is in a word abuse of the highest order. Rooting out waste, fraud and abuse will be the primary goal of a Republican House Oversight Committee.”

— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) November 17, 2022

Comer: “I want to be clear, this is an investigation of Joe Biden. And that’s where the committee will focus in this next Congress.”

— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) November 17, 2022

Comer says the Oversight Committee “would love” to hear from Hunter and James Biden as part of the investigation

— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) November 17, 2022

The House GOP is ready to fight with Democrats, but first they have to get over their fights with each other. Martin Pengelly reports on the rifts developing within the party as they decide their leaders in the House for the next two years.

Even before Republicans took the House of Representatives, leading figures on the right of the party pointed to troubled waters ahead for Kevin McCarthy – or whoever else becomes the next House speaker.

Now Republicans have won their slim victory in the lower chamber of Congress, the next two years are likely to be chaotic. Controlling an unruly party with an extremely narrow majority will all but guarantee brutal tests every day, especially from the right wing.

Fighting among Republicans over who leads the House is already in full swing. On Tuesday, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, would not tell Politico if he would back McCarthy.

But Higgins did say: “The speaker of the House, whomever he or she is, will be required to recognise the center of gravity of the conference itself. And the Freedom Caucus has moved that center of gravity to the right.”

Here’s the Guardian’s Joan E Greve with more details of what a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate will mean for American politics over the next two years:

Republicans officially captured control of the House on Wednesday, as the Associated Press called the 218th seat for the party. The House victory ends four years of Democratic control of the lower chamber, handing Republicans the speakership and the chairmanships of key committees, while Democrats will maintain control of the Senate.

But the incoming Republican speaker has the unenviable task of attempting to pass legislation with a very narrow majority, where only a few defections within the party will be enough to kill a bill.

Republicans had hoped that a “red wave” in the midterm elections would allow them to flip dozens of House seats, giving them a much more comfortable majority. Instead, Republicans were barely about to flip the House, and Democrats may even be able to increase their Senate majority depending on the results of the Georgia runoff next month.

With the House and the Senate now both called, Washington is bracing for at least two years of split control of Congress. Here’s what we can expect:

Taking control of the House is a significant victory for Republicans, first and foremost because it puts them in a position to stop Joe Biden and the Democrats’ legislative agenda.

Don’t expect any more Inflation Reduction Acts or American Rescue Plans to get through the chamber for the next two years. Anything resembling a signature Democratic accomplishment will undoubtedly get smacked down as soon as it gets to the House. But divided Congress’ are best known not for doing, but rather not doing. A dynamic you can expect to see over the coming years is the House passing bills that the Senate will ignore, while the Democratic-led Senate will return the favor to Republican legislation that comes its way.

That said, there are things the House can do unilaterally. The Republicans have made plain they intend to use the chamber’s investigative powers to look into the business activities of the president’s son Hunter Biden and the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. In the most extreme corners of the party, there are calls to launch impeachment proceedings against Biden.

Even at its most gridlocked, Congress does still have to pass laws funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, as it’s expected to have to do later next year. That legislation gives the House GOP opportunities to force Biden and the Democratic Senate to agree to enact some of their policies. Expect them to push for more security at the border with Mexico, or perhaps the repeal of some of the provisions of Biden’s marquee Inflation Reduction Act, such as its funding of the Internal Revenue Service, or its efforts to flight climate change.

Republicans have won the House – now they have to govern

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Last night, Republicans scored the victory they needed to gain a majority in the House of Representatives, putting them in a position to force Joe Biden’s White House to the bargaining table if it wants to get any legislation past its members – or hobble his agenda altogether.

But the GOP is still coming to grips with its narrow hold on control of the chamber, after an election that defied their expectations of a “red wave” that would put them decisively in power. The consequences of their struggles have included a surprisingly contentious leadership election, although Kevin McCarthy still appears on course to become House speaker. Expect this dynamic to play out further today.

Here’s what else is going on:

  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to today announce whether she’ll stay in Democratic leadership after being ousted from the chamber’s top job.

  • The Senate will today continue working on its bill to protect same-sex marriage rights, after it survived a crucial vote yesterday.

  • Jury selection begins today in the case of former Donald Trump aide Peter Navarro, who faces contempt of Congress charges for defying a subpoena from the January 6 committee.

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