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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s grip on the House of Representatives has shrunk to a razor-thin margin as Republican Rep.-elect Julia Letlow was sworn into office.
Following a Louisiana special election in March, Letlow was sworn into Congress on Wednesday, shrinking the Democrats’ margin in the House to 218-212, USA Today reported.
The small margin could become a problem as Congress tries to pass legislation few Republicans are expected to support, as the Democrats can only afford two defections on party-line votes.
There are currently five vacancies in the House following the death of Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings on April 6, according to Intelligencer.
The Democrats initially held a margin of 222-213 after the 2020 elections, but three Democrats resigned to accept positions in the Biden administration.
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Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine has been a “consistent defector” and was the only Democrat to vote against President Joe Biden’s American Recovery Act, according to The Cook Political Report.
Six Democrats are in districts won by former President Donald Trump in 2020, and another 18 Democrats won their races by less than 52 percent.
Letlow earned 65 percent of the vote in Louisiana’s primary election on March 20 and now represents the state’s 24-parish 5th Congressional District, according to USA Today.
Letlow filled the seat left vacant by her husband, Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who died in December from COVID-19 complications before he was sworn into office.
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“I’m ready to go to work. I can’t get there fast enough,” she said in an interview with USA Today Network.
“I truly believe everything has prepared me for this moment. I’m confident and ready to serve. I’m up to the task.”
Fellow Louisiana GOP Reps. Mike Johnson and Steve Scalise said they’ve reserved Letlow a spot on the House Agriculture Committee.
“She’ll be able to make a strong impact,” Johnson told USA Today Network.
Special elections will be held later this year in Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Ohio and Florida to fill the remaining open seats in the House.
Texas and New Mexico are the only possibly competitive races but typically lean Republican and Democrat respectively, according to Intelligencer.
Pelosi has suggested this could be her last term as House speaker, according to Politico. However, she was vague in her announcement, leaving room to change her mind.
Democrats will need to maintain their majority in the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they want to pick Pelosi’s successor.
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