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New Republicans Will Strengthen Boehner’s Hand in 114th

The anti-Boehner contingent will add a few new faces Tuesday, but overall the speaker stands to gain more control. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The anti-Boehner contingent will add a few new faces Tuesday, but overall the speaker stands to gain more control. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican gains in the House Tuesday aren’t expected to top what the party was able to accomplish in 2010, but even modest inroads will change the status quo on Capitol Hill.  

Here’s a rundown of how the 114th Congress will be different if House Republicans, as expected, expand their majority. — Bragging rights. Republicans will have them. They might have been surpassed by Democrats in fundraising and spending, but none of that matters if, on Wednesday morning, the GOP wakes up with an even bigger hold on the chamber.  

— A more diverse conference.  The midterms are likely to give the House GOP the demographics boost it’s been craving, especially heading into a presidential election cycle. Two of the current 19 House Republican women aren’t returning in the 114th, but the party is poised to make up for that number or even surpass it. There’s a likelihood of the House GOP gaining up to three Latinos, possibly two African-Americans (one the first black Republican woman to ever serve in Congress) and, in another party milestone, the first Republican to run for office as an openly gay candidate.  

— More wildcards. A few of the new Republicans have already indicated they have no intention of supporting John A. Boehner and the GOP establishment in Washington. They could vote against him for speaker, latch onto the “Hell No” caucus or attend Sen. Ted Cruz’s occasional pizza parties.  

— A stronger Boehner.  The anti-Boehner wing may land a few new recruits, but most of the new members joining the GOP caucus are are more conventional Republicans than the tea party crowd of 2010. That could make it easier for Boehner and his lieutenants to shore up support for legislation on the House floor and more members to work with on big-ticket items that have been nail-biters in the past four years. Getting to 218 might still be a struggle, but it will be easier to find support without having to rely on Democrats. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and company are likely to be less inclined to lend a hand, especially if the Republicans win control of the Senate and the stakes for failure to pass something such as a government funding bill become higher.  

— Another vote to repeal Obamacare? House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to dismantle different pieces of the Affordable Care Act, but they have only taken a few stand-alone votes to fully strike down the 2010 health care law. One was scheduled within the first six months of the 113th Congress to give new members a chance to go on the record as opposing the act. If there are enough new GOP lawmakers in the 114th Congress, leaders could be persuaded to schedule another symbolic vote.  

 More Republican job opportunities.
When a party suffers an electoral loss, the staffer unemployment rate goes up; the opposite, of course, happens when a party enjoys a big win. If House Republicans win a slew of seats, the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building becomes a hot spot for GOP job interviews with current aides looking for promotions in new member offices. Republican-minded men and women who have long waited for their chance to snag a coveted Hill job are also in luck.  

— More freshmen to wrangle on orientation week. Exactly one week after Election Day, freshly elected members-to-be will descend on Capitol Hill for freshmen orientation , a crash course in how to be a member of Congress. The Committee on House Administration organizes the schedule of activities down to the most minute details, but seminars on chamber ethics rules and tours of the Capitol complex compete with future lawmakers’ eagerness to rub shoulders with new colleagues, court chairmen for committee assignments and in turn be courted for their votes in leadership elections that also take place that week. The more Republicans who win on Tuesday, the more tenuous the headcounts during orientation events — and the more chaotic the lottery for office assignments.

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