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Republicans won a nine-seat majority in the U.S. House in the mid-term elections, and Democrats retained the Senate.

Initially, Democrats could claim 49 Democrats and two independents caucusing with the Democrats for the upcoming new session. But in what many considered a surprise move, bisexual U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema announced Dec. 8 that she was no longer identifying as a Democrat.

“I’ve registered as an Arizona independent,” Sinema told CNN. “…“I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to.” Sinema made her announcement after Georgia Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock won his runoff to win re-election.

Sinema becomes one of three independent members of the U.S. Senate and has indicated she expects to caucus with Democrats.

While Democrats will continue to hold the power in the Senate, Republicans will now take over leadership in the House in January. Among the 222 Republicans in the House will be George Santos, an openly gay investor who beat an openly gay Democrat to represent the Congressional district covering Queens and Long Island, New York. Santos acknowledged attending the rally prior to the January 6 insurrection riot. Santos has said he would support marriage equality but also would support the current “Don’t Say Gay” legislation pending in Congress.

The New York Times reported that Santos attended a gala in New York City Dec. 10, one that attracted white nationalists and far-right activists. Meanwhile, Republicans appear to be splintering over such things as who will be their leader. Rep. Kevin McCarthy is seeking to win the Speaker of the House gavel. To do that, a candidate must win more than half of all 435 votes in the House (or 218). With only 222 Republicans in the chamber, any Republican candidate for Speaker must win support from all but four Republicans. Political observers have suggested voting might go on for a prolonged and contentious period of time before the next session’s Republican leaders emerge.

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