As Democrats’ election losses continue to pile up, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preparing to lead what may be the slimmest House majority in nearly two decades, with little room to maneuver between the party’s feuding progressive and moderate wings as she works to deliver President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda.
Ms. Pelosi, 80, who muscled her way back to the speakership two years ago and will be nominated by Democrats again on Wednesday, is on track to secure the votes she needs to keep the job come January. Some former opponents are lining up behind her and others packing up their offices after losing.
But her party’s disappointing showing in the elections has left her clinging to the majority by a thread. Democrats’ failure to defeat a single Republican incumbent as they lost at least eight of their own transformed what was a comfortable 232-to-197 advantage into what is likely to be Democrats’ thinnest margin since World War II. With a handful of races still to be called, Democrats will probably control around 222 seats, allowing no more than a few of their members to defect on any given vote.
With Ms. Pelosi’s expected nomination on Wednesday, the political landscape in Washington that will greet Mr. Biden in January is continuing to take shape. On Tuesday, House Republicans elected their leaders for the next Congress; Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, will continue in that post.
Mr. Biden is continuing to assemble his own team. After naming a veteran aide, Ron Klain, to serve as his chief of staff last week, Mr. Biden announced a set of White House staff appointments on Tuesday. The president-elect also received a briefing from former national security officials and held another set of phone calls with foreign leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
On Wednesday, as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country, Mr. Biden is set to participate in a virtual event with frontline health care workers.
DETROIT — Republican election board members in Michigan’s most populous county refused on Tuesday to certify the county’s election results in a nakedly partisan effort to hold up President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump — only to reverse themselves after outcry from state officials and Detroit residents who accused them of trying to steal their votes.
The initial deadlock and turnaround on the elections board in Wayne County, which includes Detroit and which voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Biden, was among the starkest examples of how routine aspects of the nation’s voting system have been tainted by Mr. Trump’s effort to cling to power. But its reversal showed the limits of what is, in essence, an attempt to disenfranchise large numbers of American voters.
Democrats had criticized the Republican move as racist. The two Republican board members, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, are white. They said they had voted against certifying the results because many precincts in the county had conflicting figures for the numbers of votes cast and the number of voters recorded as having participated, even though the disparities mostly involved small numbers of votes.
At one point, Ms. Palmer moved to “certify the results in the communities other than the city of Detroit.” Mr. Biden won nearly 95 percent of the vote in Detroit. The city is more than three-quarters Black. The rest of Wayne County is more than three-quarters white.
“When it comes to elections, white people don’t understand how ingrained the right to vote is in our conscience,” said Jonathan Kinloch, a Democratic member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers who is Black. “All those barriers that our grandparents had to do in order to exercise their right to vote that is so easily available to whites in America.”
The Michigan Secretary of State’s office posted a message on Twitter Wednesday saying “all counties have certified their election results. The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet Nov. 23 to certify the Nov. 3 general election.”
President Trump on Tuesday night fired his administration’s most senior cybersecurity official responsible for securing the presidential election, Christopher Krebs, who had systematically disputed Mr. Trump’s false declarations that the presidency was stolen from him through fraudulent ballots and software glitches that changed millions of votes.
Mr. Trump seemed set off by a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security late last week, the product of a broad committee overseeing the elections, that declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”
“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate,” Mr. Trump wrote a little after 7 p.m., “in that there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.”
He said Mr. Krebs “has been terminated” as the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a post to which Mr. Trump had appointed him.
Mr. Krebs, 43, a former Microsoft executive, has been hailed in recent days for his two years preparing states for the challenges of the vote, hardening systems against Russian interference and setting up a “rumor control” website to guard against disinformation.
The foreign interference so many feared never materialized; instead, the disinformation ultimately came from the White House.
Only two weeks ago, on Election Day, Mr. Krebs’s boss, Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, had praised Mr. Krebs’s work. But behind-the-scenes efforts by Mr. Wolf and others to keep Mr. Trump from firing Mr. Krebs apparently failed.
Mr. Krebs did not immediately respond to questions for comment. But after his termination, he tweeted from his personal account: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow. #Protect2020”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made a slew of appointments to his White House senior staff on Tuesday, selecting high-level campaign aides and longstanding supporters to join him in the West Wing when he takes office.
Mr. Biden has said he wants to build a team that “looks like America.” His appointments on Tuesday included five women and four people of color.
Here are some of the key appointees:
Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, will be a senior adviser to Mr. Biden and the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, roles that will allow him to build on his deep relationships in Congress, where he started in 2011. Mr. Richmond, who served as Mr. Biden’s national campaign co-chairman, led the Congressional Black Caucus and became one of the most influential Black voices on Capitol Hill. He is poised to become one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the Biden administration.
Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who was Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, will become his deputy chief of staff. A stalwart of Democratic politics, Ms. O’Malley Dillon has never worked in the White House and is a rare new admission into Mr. Biden’s inner circle. After managing a presidential campaign remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, she is expected to be in charge of White House operations, overseeing logistics and administration.
Steve Ricchetti, Mr. Biden’s longtime friend, will join the administration as his counselor, a role that normally comes with relatively unrestricted access to the president. Mr. Ricchetti has been a key player in Mr. Biden’s life since joining the vice president’s staff in 2012 and is one of his most loyal advisers.
Mike Donilon, who was Mr. Biden’s chief strategist during the campaign, will become a senior adviser. A veteran Democratic strategist, pollster and media specialist, Mr. Donilon helped develop Mr. Biden’s central campaign theme to defeat President Trump: a fight for the soul of the nation.
Dana Remus, the Biden campaign’s top lawyer, will become White House counsel, where she will help guide Mr. Biden through legal fights with Republican lawmakers. Ms. Remus, a Yale-educated lawyer who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., was an early member of Mr. Biden’s third bid for the presidency.
The Biden campaign also announced that Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a former national political director for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign, will run the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Annie Tomasini, now Mr. Biden’s traveling chief of staff, will be director of Oval Office operations.
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, a former U.S. ambassador to Uruguay, will serve as first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff. And Anthony Bernal, who was Ms. Biden’s chief of staff on the campaign, will be her senior adviser.
Ten days after the presidential race was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr., only about a half-dozen of the nation’s 26 Republican governors have unequivocally acknowledged his victory or said that President Trump should concede.
Some have repeated Mr. Trump’s unfounded allegations about election fraud. But most have been operating in a murky middle ground in which they neither give full credence to Mr. Trump’s claims nor affirm that Mr. Biden is the president-elect.
The stakes go beyond political optics. The coronavirus is surging across the country with a renewed fury, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and driving officials in some states to return to the strict measures used in the spring to curb the pandemic’s initial spread.
In Mr. Biden’s first few months as president, his administration will need to closely coordinate with states to distribute a vaccine and ramp up testing to try to gain control of the rampant spread. Many governors, including at least two Republicans, have raised concerns that the turbulence surrounding the transition could stir confusion and serve as a dangerous distraction from the efforts to combat the pandemic.
“We’re in the middle of a war, and we don’t know who the general is going to be,” said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican in a state that voted for Mr. Biden and a recent former chair of the National Governors Association. “We don’t know what the game plan is. And we can’t wait until the end of January.”
The time had come, Mr. Hogan added, for Mr. Trump to recognize that Mr. Biden had notched a “pretty overwhelming victory.” He said the delay in doing so starved the country of clarity it urgently needed.
In a recent news conference, Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia pushed back against the assertion that he and other Republicans were trying to sow uncertainty.
“We want to absolutely know that the votes that were cast were legal votes and we want our election process to be absolutely sound,” Mr. Justice said, adding, “If Joe Biden is truly our elected president, I will support him with all of my soul.”