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Democrats win the Senate: What happens in case of a tie in the House of Representatives?

The odds of there being a tie in Congress are slim due to the makeup of each chamber, but it is not out of the realm of the possibility. Here’s a look.

The odds of there being a tie in Congress are slim due to the makeup of each chamber, but it is not out of the realm of the possibility. Here’s a look.
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With Democrats securing victories in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada, the party will keep control of the Senate. If Raphael Warnock wins the Georgia run-off, the GOP will be left with forty-nine seats in the chamber. These results are very different from what was predicted by the media in the days leading up to the election.

Chuck Schumer will return as Senate Majority Leader, but with control over the House still up in the air, the question of a tie in that chamber has emerged. To avoid a 50-50 tie in the Senate, the US Consitution allows the Vice President, as President of the Senate, to cast the tie-breaking vote.

“The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided”

US Constitution

A Supermajority is needed for most acts of the Senate

While one party may be in control of 50 votes plus the tie-breaking vote from the President of the Senate, most legislation these days is subject to the filibuster. The rules have changed over the years, with currently 161 exceptions, including presidential executive branch appointments and federal judicial nominees, including to the Supreme Court.

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However, 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster, essentially making that the minimum needed to pass a law. Only time will tell whether the delivery of a majority in the Senate means Democrats will remove the filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade.

What happens if there is a tie in the House?

The House of Representatives is currently made up of 435 voting members, and since it is an odd number, there is no way for there to be a tie.

Currently, Republicans have won 211 seats, while Democrats have only secured 204 wins. With twenty seats left up for grabs, both parties have a path, but the GOP does have more options. To win the majority, the GOP needs to win at least seven of the following races:

  • CA-27: R+11
  • CA -45: R+7
  • CA-3: R+6
  • CA-22: R+5*
  • OR-5: R+2
  • NY-22: R+5
  • CA-41: R+1.5
  • AZ-6: R+0.45*
  • CO-3: R+0.35
  • CA-13: R+0.11*

The (*) indicates that our models show a win from Democrats, at this point, in the race. Democrats would need to maintain their lead in ten, which would bring them to 214, meaning that they would need to win CA-13, AZ-1, CA-22, and flip one other race.


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