McCarthy exit underscores House GOP’s perilously slim majority

House Republicans are approaching the new year wary about their slimming majority in the wake of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announced exit.

McCarthy, R-Calif., said he would leave Congress by the end of this month after he was ousted from the speakership two months ago. It comes on the heels of the House expelling scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. 

House Republicans will only be able to lose three votes on any legislation to pass it without Democratic votes for the first several weeks of the new year, until special elections bring new members and change the margins yet again. 

“I mean, we’re operating on razor-thin margins here,” Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., told Fox News Digital. “Between God, gravity, indictments, and retirements, we’re one day away from losing the majority depending on what happens.”

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Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced he was leaving Congress at the end of this month.

GOP Conference Vice Chair Blake Moore, R-Utah, conceded that the numbers were tight but argued it was not much different than their current situation.

“It’s tough to operate in a four-seat [majority], it’s tough to operate in a two-seat [majority]. We’ve got to be judicious in what we get done, and do something that we can all get behind,” Moore said.

However, others echoed Garcia’s concerns that the slim majority would mean that any single member’s absence is consequential when the House is in session.

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Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern, R-Okla., said he did not believe it would make a difference “from a policy standpoint,” but he added, “I just think from an attendance standpoint, it’d be hard.”

Kevin Hern speaks to reporters

Rep. Kevin Hern told Fox News Digital that governing would not be much different from a policy standpoint, but pointed out that absences will be more significant. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“What are we going to be governing by, one vote? It’s always a concern when people get sick, they get injured. It makes the whip’s job measurably more difficult with a narrower majority,” said Rep. Russell Fry, R-S.C.

A special election will take place to replace Santos in mid-February. California Gov. Gavin Newsom must set a date for an election to replace McCarthy.

That means House Republicans are likely to stay on thin margins through their Jan. 19 deadline for funding part of the government.

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Conservatives like Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, urged GOP leaders to resist giving Democrats concessions to pass legislation until the numbers in the House change.

House Speaker Mike Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson will have to navigate a three-seat majority at the beginning of next year. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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“It’s gonna be tight…We’ve dealt with it before, though, and I think that Speaker Johnson is doing an excellent job of keeping everybody together. And, frankly, I think people will realize how important it is to stay together,” Self explained.

“What I do not want to see is bills put on the floor that pass with more Democrat than Republican votes. No, that is not a way to govern.”

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