|Elections Bring Major Changes
A big transformation in power is coming to Capitol Hill in 2019, as the Democratic Party won control of the U.S. House of Representatives 234 seats to 201 ending complete Republican control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. The Republicans slightly increased their Senate majority from 51-49 to 53-47.
While split control is usually a recipe for gridlock, many observers believe there is a chance that Congress could be more productive in the next two years than in the last two when Republicans had complete control. The only major piece of legislation passed in the last two years was the Tax Reform Act of 2017. The argument that the next two years could be more productive is based on the theory that each party will want to prove it is capable of governing and find ways to work with the other side.
There are also a number of issues, such as privacy (see following story) and infrastructure, that have broad bipartisan consensus and could see across-the-aisle cooperation.
With the change in party control, the House will see major changes in leadership. Many of the newly elected Democratic Representatives have pledged not to support former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, in her bid to regain her former post when the decision is made in January. However, no viable challenger has emerged, so barring major developments she seems likely to become Speaker again. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-MD and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, D-SC, are bidding to remain in their posts in the majority, but if Rep. Pelosi is chosen as Speaker some of the new members may push to make a change in this next level of leadership.
On the Republican side, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, did not run for re-election. His deputy Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, was selected to lead the caucus as Minority Leader beginning in 2019. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA, will remain as Republican Whip.
On the Senate side, most leadership positions will remain the same. Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, will continue to serve as Majority Leader. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-TX, is stepping down due to term limits and will be replaced by Sen. John Thune, R-SD.
Senate Democratic leadership will be unchanged with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY remaining as Minority Leader, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL as Minority Whip and Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA as Assistant Minority Leader.
Democrats also made significant gains in Gubernatorial and State Legislative elections, although Republicans still hold an advantage nationwide. These results are particularly significant as redistricting approaches since controlling that process makes it significantly easier to draw legislative districts favorable to the party in control and thus remain in control.
Thirty-six states held Gubernatorial elections. Prior to the election, 33 states had Republican Governors, 16 had Democrats and one was independent. In 2019, 27 states will have Republican Governors and 23 Democratic.
Prior to the election, Democrats controlled both the state Senate and House in 14 states, Republicans in 32 states, and four states had split control (Nebraska has a non-partisan unicameral legislature).
In 2019, Democrats will control the House and Senate in 18 states, Republicans will control both in 31 states and one state will have split-party control.
Finally, before the election, Democrats controlled both Houses of the legislature and the Governor’s mansion in eight states and Republicans in 26, with 16 states having split control.
In 2019, 16 states will still have split control of legislative chambers and the Governorship. Twenty-three states will be under complete Republican control and 14 under complete Democratic control.