Longtime Democratic lawmaker Alcee Hastings dies at 84, further diluting Democratic House control

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) passed away on Tuesday at the age of 84 after an extensive battle with cancer, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Hastings had been fighting pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in 2019, all while serving as the longest-tenured member of the Florida Congressional delegation. Hasting’s passing prompted immediate condolences from numerous figures, and all eyes are turning on who will replace Hastings.

Terrible time for Democrats

The lawmakers passing has come at a terrible time for the Democratic Party. Democrats were already in a bad spot in the House as they only hold a seven-seat majority.

Without perfect and unanimous cohesion, the party doesn’t enjoy a true majority.

A few defections by purple state Democrat Representatives can kill important bills and Hasting’s passing has only exacerbated that situation.

Luckily for Democrats, Hasting’s seat is located in an area that overwhelmingly voted for President Joe Biden in 2020 despite Florida going red overall.

Nonetheless, that seat will remain vacant for a sizable chunk of time while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) plans the special election. Until that seat is filled, Democrats can only afford two defections on bills to push legislation through the House.

2022 looking worse

With major bills on immigration and infrastructure in the pipeline, many are beginning to wonder if Democrats are going to be able to get President Joe Biden’s agenda to the Senate.

Unlike in the Senate, there is a higher chance of defections in the House, especially around immigration and infrastructure. Republicans stand united in opposition to Biden’s agenda, and with two or three Democrats, the entire Democrat machine grinds to a halt.

Democrats have been in power for all of three months only to see their power balancing on the thinnest of margins. Things aren’t any better in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

Democrats have limited time to utilize their thin majorities to get Biden’s agenda passed. Once 2022 comes around, major legislation is off the table while both parties defend vulnerable seats and attack opposition seats.

Republicans are already projected to retake the House in 2022, thanks to a strong performance by Republicans in the 2020 election cycle, according to The Hill. Should Republicans take the House back in 2022, it may turn the rest of Biden’s term into a stalemate.

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