Republicans kept their majorities in the United States Senate and House, but it may not all be good news for GOP leaders.
It appears the next Congress will have 241 Republican members, two fewer than the current body. Two seats won’t be decided in December because of Louisiana laws requiring a run-off, but Republicans are heavily favored to win.
That means if just 24 House Republicans withhold their support of Paul Ryan for Speaker, he would need to make concessions to get 218 votes. The Speaker is elected by majority vote. That blocks any Democrat from winning the post, but the reduced Republican majority gives Ryan a narrow margin for error.
In the Senate is appears Republicans will go into January with a 52-seat majority, two fewer than the current session. The seat of retiring Louisiana Republican David Vitter won’t be decided until December, but the GOP is favored to win.
One Republican senators was defeated for re-election, moderate Mark Kirk of Illinois. Another moderate, New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, trails narrowly with nearly all votes counted. The losses mean the reduced Republican majority is more conservative.
That means if three Senate Republicans withhold their support, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn would have to make concessions to keep their jobs, or step aside.
What could House and Senate Republicans demand in exchange for Ryan and McConnell keeping their jobs?
Spending caps that reduce the federal budget could be on the table, along with placement of Tea Party conservatives in key chairmanships and GOP leadership positions.
Conservative Republicans have more influence now than they did Monday. Will they use it?