The midterm elections will determine control of Congress and, with it, the fate of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Democrats are unlikely to retain control of both the House and Senate, project analysts and experts. With Republicans well positioned to take control of at least the House, Biden is likely to face obstacles as he finishes the final two years of his term.
The degree to which Republicans can stall Biden’s agenda depends on their margins of victory after Tuesday’s election. This is what could happen if the Republican Party regains at least some control of Washington.
A GOP House would open new investigations; many of them
When Democrats took control of the House as part of the 2018 blue wave, they launched a series of investigations into former President Trump’s administration and its business dealings, including check your tax returns and then the paper played in the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
Republicans have been eager to do the same. If they gain control of the House next year, expect plenty of investigations into Biden’s programs and the financial dealings of his son Hunter Biden.
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Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, currently the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, is expected to chair the House’s most powerful investigative committee. Comer has pledged to aggressively investigate Hunter Biden’s financial dealings and compliance with tax laws.
A Republican majority could also open investigations into the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Department of Justice.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, poised to become House Speaker if the GOP takes the chamber, has promised to immediately open an investigation into the FBI search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.” McCarthy said.
A bigger platform for ultra-conservatives
If McCarthy becomes speaker, he may have to hold together a potentially unwieldy majority, some of whose members are demanding aggressive accountability from the Biden administration. Depending on how thin the Republican majority is, the House Freedom Caucus, which includes some of the most conservative lawmakers in the House, could expand its influence.
The caucus, made up of some 30 members, has so far remained neutral in leadership elections, although it is aware of the power it wields. “If you have 30 votes in a narrow majority, you can be influential.” Rep. Ken Buck, R-Col., and member of the Freedom Caucus, he told Axios.
The Freedom Caucus has been involved in leadership changes before. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner he was forced to resign in 2015 in part due to caucus opposition to him.
While McCarthy likely won’t face any real opposition in his bid for House speaker, in part because no challenger has emerged, he would have to walk a tightrope between promoting the legislation and moderating far-right Republicans.
impeachment threat looming
Some House Republicans have been clamoring to impeach Biden if the Republican Party takes control of the House. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, one of the most fiercely outspoken members of the Republican Conference, has introduced articles of impeachment against Biden several times.
However, McCarthy has tried to temper talk of impeachment, telling reporters, “We’re not going to play politics with it.”
House Republicans are being cautious about impeachment. A move to impeach Biden would attract significant media attention and could backfire if voters disapprove. Several of them were in office during the 1990s, when the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton led to the loss of some Republican seats in Congress and boosted the president’s popularity.
Even if Biden were impeached, the Senate would hold a trial that would require a two-thirds majority to convict Biden, an almost impossible task.
Another potential impeachment target would be two of Biden’s cabinet members: Attorney General Merrick Garland, for the DOJ investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documentsand to the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, for handling the administration of the Record migratory wave on the southern border.
Continued aid to Ukraine could slow down
If the GOP takes the House, continued US aid to Ukraine as it defends against a Russian invasion is up in the air. McCarty he told Punchbowl News that a GOP House will not write a “blank check” to Ukraine, suggesting that Republicans would limit or stop funding to Ukraine.
Republicans have been divided on approving more aid to Ukraine. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has pushed the White House to speed up the shipment of military weapons. McCarthy and other Republicans have expressed skepticism about continuing aid, citing the national debt as a reason to limit funding.
What legislation can be passed?
If the GOP regains the Senate, McConnell would regain his seat as Senate Majority Leader, allowing him to set the House agenda.
McConnell, during his previous tenure as Majority Leader, has been criticized by opponents as a filibuster. The self-proclaimed Senate “grim reaper” has already said he is “100%” focused on curbing Biden’s agenda.
Any Democratic legislation that makes it to the Senate would have to go through McConnell, who has previously left many Democratic House bills in legislative limbo.
If the GOP takes the House, expect a Republican majority to push through legislation with traditional conservative prongs: tax cuts and reduced government spending.
A House Republican agenda unveiled in September titled “Commitment to America” he outlined several legislative goals for a Republican majority that also include increased fossil fuel production. But with Biden still in the White House, the GOP would have to deal with Biden’s veto pen.
Biden’s influence in the judiciary could decline
Biden has nominated and seen more federal judges confirmed than any other president since John F. Kennedy. But if the GOP takes over the Senate, its influence in the judiciary could come to an abrupt halt.
McConnell is well known for blocking former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, now Attorney General Merrick Garland. When Garland was nominated, McConnell refused to let the house take a confirmation vote for more than 11 months, allowing Garland’s nomination to expire. Ultimately, President Trump was able to to fill the seat with conservative Neil Gorsuch.
And if a Supreme Court vacancy opens up, Democrats worry that McConnell could hold onto a Biden candidate indefinitely in the hope that a Republican will take the Oval Office and nominate a conservative justice.