US Republicans clinch control of the House of Representatives after tight midterm election

Narrow win for Republicans comes after a campaign season in which they promised a 'red wave' sweep of both chambers of Congress

Members-elect of the US House of Representatives prepare for a group photo outside of the US Capitol in Washington. Reuters
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The Republican Party on Wednesday secured control of the US House of Representatives, after razor-thin margins prolonged the announcement of the final results of last week's midterm elections.

The victory saw Republicans clinch 218 seats, the number needed to secure a majority in the 435-seat chamber. Their advantage could grow further, as counting has still not been completed for seven too-close-to-call seats.

Control of the House, albeit with only a small majority, is hugely significant for Washington as the Republicans will be able to block President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

The party in opposition usually makes bigger gains in the midterms and many commentators and pollsters made similar predictions this time. But voters confounded expectations, shunning candidates backed by former president Donald Trump, whose endorsement frequently turned into more of a hindrance than a help.

"In this election, voters spoke clearly about their concerns: the need to lower costs, protect the right to choose, and preserve our democracy," Mr Biden said in a statement after the news on Wednesday.

"The future is too promising to be trapped in political warfare. The American people want us to get things done for them."

Republicans on Tuesday voted to nominate California's Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader since 2019, as the party leader in the chamber.

Mr McCarthy won a secret ballot on a 188-31 vote, defeating a challenge from Andy Biggs of the far-right, Trump-affiliated Freedom Caucus. He will replace Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families," Mr Biden said.

The Republican Party on Wednesday also re-elected veteran Senator Mitch McConnell as its leader in the upper chamber.

Updated: November 17, 2022, 6:01 AM