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Where The House Balance Of Power Stands After Dem Suddenly Dies And Another GOP Member Resigns

  This week, the   sudden death   of Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) and   the resignation   of Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) once again changed t...

 This week, the sudden death of Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) and the resignation of Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) once again changed the party breakdown of the GOP-led chamber that has to contend with a Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.

Republicans numbered 217 while Democrats had 212 members as of Thursday. That means, with the current set-up, the GOP can only afford two defectors in party-line votes with full attendance. Yet that will not be the case for long.

In less than one week, on April 30, New York will hold a special election for the Buffalo-area seat once held by Brian Higgins, a Democrat who stepped down in February to become president and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

New York State Sen. Timothy Kennedy (D) is facing off against West Seneca Town Supervisor Gary Dickson (R) in the race to finish the two-year term Higgins won in 2022. The winner will likely be sworn in during the following weeks.

If Kennedy wins the 26th Congressional District, which Higgins had represented since 2005, it would further diminish the GOP’s ability to prevail in contentious matters. Two Republican defectors in otherwise party-line votes would result in a tie.

Republicans previously lost ground in the Empire State when Democrat Tom Suozzi emerged victorious over GOP rival Mazi Pilip in the special election that followed the expulsion of Long Island Rep. George Santos(R-NY). Suozzi took the oath of office in late February.

There are five other vacancies in the House, which has a full capacity of 435 voting members. While only a little more than half a year remains in the current session, some important votes may yet still happen — including for the fiscal 2025 budget.


Three other special elections have been set in motion for a GOP trio who resigned early. One in California is set for May 21 to pick a successor to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Two June contests for seats previously held by Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Ken Buck (R-CO) will follow.

It remains unclear whether there will be a special election for the seat left behind by Payne, who died on Wednesday at the age of 65. There are no plans for one to be held to replace Gallagher following his resignation, which became official on Wednesday after he stayed in office slightly longer than planned to vote on a foreign aid package over the weekend.

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