Post-election shift in US House could hamper Democrats’ abortion, LGBT goals

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As ballots are still being counted to determine key House races, Democrats are projected to hold control of the chamber-but by a smaller margin. The shift could impact the Democrats' priorities in the coming years.

As of Friday afternoon, ABC News had projected Democrats with 214 House seats and Republicans with 202.

House Republicans had gained a net total of six seats in the House and are looking to flip several more, in states such as New York, Iowa, and California where districts are either still counting ballots or may hold a recount. While Republicans had flipped eight seats, Democrats flipped two in Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) survived his re-election bid after he switched parties in 2019 and opposed the House impeachment of President Trump. He ended up signing a pro-life House petition on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection bill.

Pro-life women candidates were responsible for much of the Republican gain on Tuesday. The number of pro-life women in the House has now "more than doubled," said Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly on Thursday. The group's 501(c)(4) had endorsed a number of women for 2020 House races.

Maria Elvira Salazar won in South Florida's Miami-Dade County, Ashley Hinson flipped a district in Northeast Iowa, Yvette Herrell unseated a Democratic incumbent in Southern New Mexico, Nancy Mace won in coastal South Carolina, and Michelle Fischbach defeated Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in Western Minnesota.

Peterson was known as a sometimes "pro-life Democrat" and was endorsed by Democrats for Life of America, although Susan B. Anthony List says his record was mixed.

Ballots are still being counted in other races around the country, and other GOP women candidates could continue to flip districts red. Mariannette Miller-Meeks holds a narrow lead of several hundred votes in Iowa's second district, where a recount is expected. Claudia Tenney is ahead in New York's 22nd district race.

As part of its overall campaign with Women Speak Out PAC, Susan B. Anthony List spent $52 million to target more than 8 million voters in 10 battleground states, knocking on doors, making phone calls, and running digital ads.

"I think this is a repudiation of Speaker Pelosi's radical pro-abortion agenda," Quigley told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly of the House gains. "Pro-life is a winning issue."

The Republican gain comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had predicted a double-digit gain of seats for House Democrats as part of an electoral sweep.

Now, with a slimmer majority, Democrats might reconsider some of their policy priorities-especially if Republicans hold on to control of the Senate.

As of Friday morning, Republicans were poised to hold 50 seats in the chamber with two runoff races in Georgia expected in January to determine ultimate control.

If Democrats were to expand their House majority and gain control of the Senate, along with winning the White House, a number of pro-abortion and pro-LGBT policies were expected to be considered. With a clear Democratic majority, the Senate would possibly be able to abolish the filibuster, requiring only a 50-vote majority to pass legislation. The chamber would also be able to move to expand the Supreme Court and negate any perceived Republican advantage there.

Now, with a more competitive House and a possible Republican Senate, that landscape may be altered. Speaker Pelosi and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had both promised to repeal the Hyde Amendment and allow for taxpayer funding of elective abortions, but that measure might be much harder to pass through a Republican Senate.

Other more-controversial measures such as court-packing might now be dead-on-arrival, said National Review senior editor Rammesh Ponnuru on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

Pro-lifers, he said, "will be in striking distance" of a House majority and could obtain it by 2022.

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Tuesday's results also foreshadow a possible fight amongst House Democrats over policy priorities and messaging for the next two years-as well as a potential challenge to Speaker Pelosi's leadership.

In a call with fellow House Democrats on Thursday, Pelosi reportedly insisted that Democrats had won and were given a "mandate" by voters. "We didn't win every battle, but we won the war," she said.

However, some Democrats on the call emphasized that the party must moderate its message. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) who represents a suburban district rated R+6 by the Cook Report and who is projected to survive her first re-election battle, insisted that the party change its tone especially on emphasizing issues such as "socialism" and "defund the police."

Other young progressive congresswomen, however, said that the party need not abandon liberal priorities such as Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted on Friday that liberal policies were not the problem for Democrats.

Thursday's call-and the ensuing debate-is a snapshot of a possible conflict among House Democrats in the next two years.

The issue of abortion is wrapped up in this fight. Proposals for Medicare-for-All would cover elective abortions in taxpayer-funded plans. Progressive House Democrats such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) have led efforts in recent years to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding of elective abortions in health care appropriations bills.

The Equality Act, which the House passed in 2019, would set up sexual orientation and gender identity as protected legal classes; critics have said that the bill would infringe on the religious freedom of individuals and groups opposed to the LGBT agenda, and could possibly force health care workers to participate in abortions.

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Other House races in doubt on Friday include heavily-Catholic districts in New York. Republicans could gain the state's first and third districts on Long Island and Staten Island, while Catholic Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) could survive a challenge in his district on Long Island's north shore. Suozzi has had an 100% rating from the pro-abortion group NARAL in the most recent Congress.

Suozzi helped bring Bishop Robert Barron to Capitol Hill last year to speak to legislators. He called Barron "a remarkable man who has inspired me and my wife and my family for many years."

In Pennsylvania's 17th district in the Pittsburgh suburbs, Catholic Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) is expected to win re-election over a Catholic Republican challenger, Sean Parnell. Lamb said in 2018 that on abortion, Catholics "believe that life begins at conception," but "as a matter of separation of church and state, I think a woman has the right to choose under the law." He said he would vote against a 20-week abortion ban.

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