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U.S. Republicans Take House of Representatives - Projections

FILE: Members-elect from the U.S. House of Representatives pose for a group photo outside of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Nov. 15, 2022.

Republicans on Wednesday were overwhelmingly projected to take control of the US House of Representatives from Democrats, networks said, narrowly securing a legislative base to oppose President Joe Biden's agenda for the final two years of his term -- and leaving power in Congress split.

The victory gives Republicans the power to rein in Biden's agenda, as well as to launch potentially politically damaging probes of his administration and family, though it falls far short of the "red wave" the party had hoped for.

The slim Republican majority in the lower house of the U.S. legislature will be far smaller than the party had been banking on, and Republicans also failed to take control of the Senate in a historically weak performance in the November 8 midterm elections.

Biden congratulated top House Republican Kevin McCarthy "on Republicans winning the House majority" and added that he was "ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families."

Last week's vote, he said, was "a strong rejection of election deniers, political violence and intimidation" and demonstrated "the strength and resilience of American democracy."

Tweeting soon after the projection was called, McCarthy said that "Americans are ready for a new direction, and House Republicans are ready to deliver."

The news came one day after former president Donald Trump -- who loomed large during the election cycle, and whose endorsement appears to have doomed some of his party's candidates -- announced a new run for the White House.

With inflation surging and Biden's popularity ratings cratering, Republicans had hoped to see a "red wave" wash over America, giving them control of both houses and hence an effective block over most of Biden's legislative plans.

But instead, Democratic voters -- galvanized by the Supreme Court's overturning of abortion rights and wary of Trump-endorsed candidates who openly rejected the result of the 2020 presidential election -- turned out in force.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement House Democrats "will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda - with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority."

Analysts say Republicans lost ground with candidates rejected by moderate voters as too extreme.

McCarthy now begins what is expected to be a grueling campaign to win the consequential floor vote on January 3, when the House of Representatives' 435 newly elected members -- Democrats and Republicans -- choose their speaker, the third most important US political position after president and vice president.

McCarthy has raised eyebrows by saying that his party might not grant a "blank check" for continued multi-billion dollar US funding for Ukraine's fight against the Russian invasion.

This report was compiled using data from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.