House Republicans are on track to lose a small number of seats in the next Congress, setting the stage for limited gains by Democrats as the two sides head into a potential end-of-year government shutdown showdown.
The GOP entered the 2018 election cycle with a majority of 241 seats to Democrats 188 seats, with six vacancies. Through most of the year, Democrats have been gaining ground and are likely to take a few more seats when all the votes are counted.
Republicans are projected to lose up to seven seats, with Democratic gains likely coming from suburban districts in Texas, Florida, California, and Pennsylvania. Democrats could pick up as many as eight seats, depending on how things shake out in the coming weeks.
The projected seat losses would reduce the Republican majority to 234-201, putting Democrats within striking distance of a majority. That would put pressure on Speaker Paul Ryan to rally his members to pass must-pass appropriations measures to keep the government running.
It is unclear how the shift in the House will play out in terms of the 2018 spending bills. Republican leaders have already set up a veto-proof majority by drafting their spending bills with Democratic support, though Democrats have yet to commit to supporting the overall appropriations package.
If Democrats gain enough seats to take control of the House, they could use their newfound leverage to force concessions from the White House and Republican leadership. However, if the GOP holds onto its narrow majority, it could be enough to ensure the passage of its bills, and potentially prevent a government shutdown.