As vote totals continued to roll in on Tuesday evening, NBC felt confident predicting the Democratic Party would retain its hold on the 435-member House of Representatives. However, the Republican-controlled Senate has remained stagnant, with Democrats picking up one seat in Colorado but losing another in Alabama.
Going into the election, Democrats held 232 of the 435 seats in the House, giving them a 35-seat lead over the Republicans. Incumbency rates for the legislative chamber often top 90%, according to data compiled by Open Secrets.
Delegates to the House are elected for two-year terms, and all 435 seats are contested during each election. The seats are apportioned by population.
While the power to approve items such as treaties and judges belongs to the legislature's upper chamber, the US Senate, the House gets some unique powers of its own: for example, in the event the presidential election fails to produce a clear winner in the Electoral College, the House of Representatives itself elects the next president, according to the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution.
In the event the president or another elected official is suspected of having committed a crime, as happened in 2019, the House acts as a "grand jury" of sorts, gathering evidence to make a case and then impeaching the official if they feel it necessary. The Senate then handles the trial itself as several House members form the prosecution.