The GOP Braces for Divided Government—and a Divided Party

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy conducts a news conference after securing the Republican nomination for speaker on November 15. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

When the 118th Congress convenes for the first time on January 3, the wrangling will begin almost immediately—and there is little evidence that it will let up. This reality has left centrist Republicans wondering whether their deeply divided party can produce any meaningful legislation over the next two years. 

House Republicans have already said they plan to prioritize investigations of the origins of COVID-19, the Biden administration’s chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, and Hunter Biden’s business dealings, among other issues. Turning legislation into law will be much harder: Even if House Republicans’ now 222-member conference can agree on a bill, it will still need President Joe Biden’s signature along with support from a narrowly blue Senate.

“If you pass legislation out of here, and it can’t pass a Democrat-controlled Senate, then you’ve done nothing for our country,” socially moderate GOP Rep. Nancy Mace said in a recent interview. Mace has stood apart from most House Republicans on a number of issues, including the  Respect for Marriage Act and the House-passed Right to Contraception Act.

Mace maintains that her independent-minded approach to policy issues is the reason she carried her swing district by 14 points in an otherwise lackluster midterm cycle for her party. “Leadership will need to look at the positions of more centrist-minded Republicans in order to be successful,” Mace said.

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