KERRY HUBARTT COLUMN: Losing House majority may be a big setback, but Trump will make it interesting

Kerry Hubartt

Is losing the House majority in Tuesday’s midterm election the end of the world for conservatives?

Well, it’s not a positive, but it’s one of those political setbacks that may at first seem a lot worse than it is.

And for President Trump it sets the stage for more drama in Washington, D.C., and, after all, he thrives on drama.

The fickle finger of “fate” pushed the wrong buttons on the ballot machines for Republicans to keep control of the House. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 235-193 advantage over the Democrats in the 435-member House of Representatives. All 435 seats–including seven vacancies–were up for election, with Democrats needing to add 23 seats to win majority control of the chamber.

By the end of the week the GOP had lost 30 seats to the Democrats to give them a 225-197 advantage. That left 13 seats that were still too close to call, but even if all those were Republican wins they could not give the majority back to the GOP.

Indiana’s Jim Banks (R-3rd District), like many other representatives, now faces serving in the minority party for the first time, and life will not be as easy in Washington as it was. The Columbia City resident, 38, won about 65 percent of the vote Tuesday, to defeat Democrat Courtney Tritch in his bid for a second term in the House.

What does being in the minority mean to him?

Banks says he gets along well with Democrats who serve with him on the House Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services committees, which he believes function on a mostly bipartisan basis.

“There will be opportunities to still get things done on the issues that I care most deeply about, and the issues that matter to the district,” he said.

But he acknowledged in comments to the audience at the Allen County Republican Party’s post-election luncheon that life won’t be quite the same: “Democrats are going to do what Democrats do: They are going to overreach these next two years, and they are going to show the American people that they are as dysfunctional as those of us in Washington, D.C., who are serving and have served over the past couple of years, know that they are.”

Being in the minority restrained the radical agenda of the Democrats, especially Nancy Pelosi, who was the Speaker of the House when they were in power before. Now it’s likely that she could lead the charge in stoking the fires for investigations and possible impeachment proceedings against the president.

But as Rich Lowry of National Review, a frequent guest columnist for, writes, while the subject matter of investigations of Trump, such as his tax returns and his businesses, won’t be pleasant for him, the fight will be — “It will be high-stakes combat of the sort that he thrives on, the more intense, perilous and dramatic, the better. Because he will be at the center of it.”

As the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board expressed it, “The biggest loser in all this would be a genuine conservative agenda. Judges aside, the House has been essential to Mr. Trump’s main achievements that have lifted the economy–corporate tax reform, deregulation–and whatever government-reform victories they’ve had.”

Banks predicted at Wednesday’s luncheon that the Republicans would regain control of the House in the 2020 election. In the meantime, these next two years may be quite a show. And as Lowry wrote, Trump’s genius at being able to keep our interest will remain undimmed, “whether we are appalled, energized or entertained.”

Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.