Today on the Hill: 2018 Midterms Produce Divided Congress

Riding a wave of unprecedented political engagement in a midterm election, Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010. The 2018 midterms will send one of the largest classes of freshman Members to Washington in recent history — replacing a cadre of centrist, suburban Republicans with establishment-backed Democrats that could grow the party’s moderate coalition. Meanwhile, an upstart group of unabashedly progressive candidates will be sworn in alongside as many as 15 new members of the GOP’s hardline Freedom Caucus, further fueling a dynamic that has sewn internal fissures into each of the major parties. The 2018 midterms marks the fourth straight midterm election (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018) with at least one chamber of Congress flipping.

In the Senate, Republicans appear to have extended their majority thanks to an advantageous map that saw Democrats defending 26 seats to the GOP’s 8. As of this morning, Republicans flipped vulnerable Democratic seats in Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana and are currently well-positioned in Montana, Florida, Arizona — although these races currently remain too close to call. With as many as 55 seats in the 116th Congress, Republicans also increased the likelihood of holding the Senate in 2020, when the map will favor Democrats.

House and Senate lawmakers will return to Washington next Tuesday, November 13th for the lame duck session of Congress. With seven outstanding appropriation bills as the most pressing lame duck priority, Congress will return to Washington facing the distinct possibility of a post-election showdown over the border wall. Ultimately, another continuing resolution (CR) will likely be required to fund the government into early next year. Meanwhile, other items on the lame duck agenda include a farm bill and flood insurance package — both of which are set to expire before the end of the year — along with more targeted action to address issues including criminal justice reform or the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole.”