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GOP clinches House control

WASHINGTON -- Republicans clinched control of the House Tuesday for two more years, assuring that their conservative agenda will dominate the chamber and that future clashes with re-elected President Barack Obama lie ahead.

The GOP won 217 seats. Two Louisiana Republicans will face each other in a December runoff, assuring the GOP will have 218 seats -- the number needed for a majority.

Their margin will likely resemble the majority they enjoy in the current House, which they control by 240-190. There are also five vacant seats.

Democrats grabbed their first GOP seat of the night, defeating 10-term GOP veteran Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland in a race that was preordained after Democrats controlling the State Legislature added more Democratic suburbs near Washington to his western Maryland district.

But in an Election Day that was producing little net change in the parties' numbers overall, Republicans responded by ousting one Democrat from Kentucky and another from North Carolina. They also picked up an open Democratic seat in both North Carolina and Oklahoma.

Even before renewed GOP control was clinched, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- re-elected to his seat without opposition -- claimed victory and laid down a marker for upcoming battles in Congress.

"The American people want solutions, and tonight they responded by renewing our House Republican majority," he said at a gathering of Republicans in Washington. "The American people also made clear there's no mandate for raising tax rates."

One of the top fights when Congress returns for a postelection session this month will be over the looming expiration of income tax cuts first enacted a decade ago under President George W. Bush. Republicans want to renew them all, while Obama wants the cuts to expire for the highest-earning Americans.

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