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GOP faces hurdles in managing a House majority with swing-district members

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Kevin McCarthy at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, in Las Vegas
Kevin McCarthy at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, in Las Vegas, on Nov. 19, 2022. John Locher / AP file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... President Biden urges Congress to pass labor deal to avert nationwide rail strike. ... Biden travels to Michigan to discuss manufacturing. ... Arizona Secretary of State (and Gov.-elect) Katie Hobbs sues GOP-controlled county after it refused to certify its election results. ... Anthony Ornato, the former Trump deputy chief of staff, is expected to meet with Jan. 6 committee, per NBC’s Ryan Nobles. ... Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., passes away at age 61. ... And the Georgia Senate runoff is exactly a week away as the attack ads once again heat up

But first: With the dust now (mostly) settled on the 2022 midterms, 17 House Republicans won in congressional districts that President Biden carried in 2020 — including six in New York state and four in California. 

And the number could grow to 18 if Republicans end up winning in California-13, a contest that NBC News’ Decision Desk still hasn’t called.

By comparison, just five House Democrats won in districts that Donald Trump carried.

That difference is one reason why Democrats have a reasonably good chance of winning back control of the House in 2024; all they would need is to flip those New York districts — and hold on to the districts they won earlier this month.  

Yet it’s also a reason why the incoming House GOP majority won’t be easy for House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (or whoever becomes speaker) to manage, given the need to satisfy both diehard conservatives and the vulnerable Republicans who represent districts that voted for Biden.  

Here’s one of those vulnerable House Republicans from earlier this month: Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.: Bacon said … he’d work with Democrats to find a moderate alternative [for speaker] in order to keep Congress from becoming gridlocked and ineffective. 

“If we have total gridlock, I’m going to work with like-minded people across the aisle to find someone agreeable for speaker,” Bacon said. “We have to govern. We can’t afford to let our country be stuck in neutral.”

So whoever becomes the GOP speaker will have to unite both the Don Bacons and the Marjorie Taylor Greenes. 

Data Download: The number of the day is … 14

That’s the number of days since former President Donald Trump announced his presidential bid during a speech at his Florida compound. Yet he’s held no campaign events since. 

The announcement came a little more than a week before the Thanksgiving holiday, which could partially explain the lack of events. But while virtually every presidential announcement in recent memory coincided with an immediate campaign swing, Trump appears to be doing more of the same thing he’s done since he left office. 

What he has done in the meantime is catalog which Republicans are endorsing his bid, through news releases sent from his re-election campaign. So far, he has the support of 11 members of Congress or members-elect (including New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene), along with two statewide elected officials in Texas (Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller). 

Other numbers to know:

60: The number of votes needed to pass a bill codifying same-sex marriage protections, which the Senate will vote on Tuesday, per NBC News’ Capitol Hill team.

38: The number of years that had passed since Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano erupted in Hawaii, before it began erupting again on Sunday.

5: The number of hours on Monday that Kellyanne Conway, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, spent with the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.

2,560,623: The number of travelers the TSA screened on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the largest number of individuals to be screened in one day since the Covid pandemic began.

330,000: The number of children affected in and around Houston when public schools were forced to close Monday due to a boil water advisory.

25: The number of state charges a shooter who killed 13 in Buffalo in May pleaded guilty to.

Headline of the day: Congressman passes away


Runoff watch: Georgia shatters early vote record

Georgia appears to have broken its record for early vote turnout in a single day, according to Gabriel Sterling, the COO at the Georgia Secretary of State. More than 300,000 Georgians voted early on Monday, shattering a previous early voting record of over 233,000 votes in one day.

Meanwhile, the battle on the airwaves continues to be brutal, with both campaigns launching new attacks on each other’s character

And the New York Times is reporting that former President Donald Trump will not campaign in person for Republican Herschel Walker, instead hosting a telephone call with Walker supporters and sending out online fundraising requests for him after the two sides decided an event with both men “carried more political risk than reward.” 

Politico reports that GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has actually emerged as Walker’s “most important surrogate.” 

Eyes on 2024: Republicans condemn Trump dinner

It’s been days since the news broke that former President Trump had dinner with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West (who has made anti-Semitic remarks in recent weeks and been accused by former employees of making those comments in the work place) and Nick Fuentes, (who among other things called Trump’s attempt to denounce white supremacy after the 2017 Charlottesville rally “totally wrong”). 

And now that Republican senators are returning to Washington, there’s been a steady stream of lawmakers, and possible 2024 opponents, criticizing him, NBC News’ Sahil Kapur, Scott Wong and Frank Thorp V, with Ryan Nobles report. 

Some GOP senators — including West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and Maine Sen. Susan Collins — criticized Trump directly, while others broadly denounced anti-Semitism and white supremacy without specifically naming Trump. 

And some of Trump’s potential Republican presidential rivals and/or prominent Republicans got in on the blame game too, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who directly criticized the former president. 

But in Georgia, while top statewide officials (including recently re-elected Gov. Brian Kemp) either criticized the decision or broadly condemned racist and anti-Semitic views, Herschel Walker declined to comment to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the governor-elect, sued the GOP-controlled Cochise County on Monday after it refused to certify its election results on Monday. 

In an interview with NBC10’s Lauren Mayk, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said he had no regrets about his decision not to run for re-election, but believes he would have won if he had been on the ballot.

The State Department chastised members of the Salvadoran government for trying to influence a congressional election this year in California’s 35th District.

Protests against China’s strict Covid lockdowns continue to sweep across the country, challenging President Xi Jinping.