WASHINGTON — Hardline conservatives are consolidating power in the narrow new House majority, presenting early challenges for Republicans in swing districts ahead of the 2024 election, as Democrats seek to paint the entire party as beholden to the extremists.

Twenty hardline Republican House members have led the way, extracting a series of concessions from Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to change House rules while securing plum committee appropriations and getting assurances on progress. of their legislative priorities.

His aggressive tactics to control the House agenda are already forcing lawmakers in competitive districts to vote on messaging bills that are designed to excite the right but could alienate crucial independents. Republicans in swing districts will have to balance the desires of conservative voters to guard against challenges from the right in the primary with the need to work with a Democratic-led Senate and President Joe Biden on issues like government funding. and avoid a calamitous debt default.

“This is going to be the tightrope that Republicans will have to walk for the next two years. The rising conservative populist wing of the party demands a seat at the table, while majorities in Biden-controlled districts have to take a more moderate line,” said Ken Spain, a former spokesman for the Republican National Congressional Committee. “The majorities are going to have to demand a seat at the table when it comes to setting the agenda.

“The path to a majority in 2024 is through the congressional seats held by Biden. The Republicans will have to, at some point, offer an agenda that will resonate outside of the dark red country,” Spain said. «If you can’t win independent voters, you can’t win elections.»

Democrats are targeting 25 districts to win back a House majority next year, including 18 Republican-held seats Biden won in 2020. A spokesman for the House Majority PAC said the Democratic group plans to run paid ads “before than ever” this cycle portraying Centrist Republicans as “extremists” beholden to the far right on issues like reducing abortion and cutting Social Security.

The White House is also trying to exploit fissures in the Republican Party and paint the entire party as beholden to «extreme MAGA members.» Democratic leaders are working to portray far-right figures like Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Col., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., as the faces of the party.

In the narrow Republican majority, McCarthy has just four votes to spare before he needs Democratic support to pass measures. Hardline Conservatives have taken advantage, handing McCarthy 14 losses, the most unsuccessful speaker votes since the mid-19th century, before winning enough concessions to back him. But moderates have supported McCarthy despite his anger at his concessions.

Former Rep. Leonard Lance, RN.J., a moderate who lost his seat in the 2018 blue wave, said the GOP must show it can govern to have a majority in 2024.

“Independent voters want governance, the ability to work in a bipartisan capacity,” Lance said. “To remain a member of Congress, you must govern. And that means not shutting down the United States government, not denying people their Social Security checks or their Medicare benefits.”

He warned that Republicans cannot simply be «deniers» and must be ready to «compromise with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president.» He said Republicans in swing districts must be willing to use their power and withhold votes when necessary to counter the influence of hardliners and sink extreme proposals.

“Go to the leadership and say: We also have strength,” he said. «Or we will vote with the Democrats on sensitive issues, not on extravagant federal spending, but on common sense issues.»

Rep. Nancy Mace, RS.C., was outspoken in criticizing McCarthy’s decision to hold a vote recently on an anti-abortion bill as part of her far-right-backed rules package. Mace warned that the party risked alienating swing voters by failing to show compassion for women.

“There are political dangers,” Mace told NBC News after voting in favor of the bill. “In my district in South Carolina, it’s a pro-abortion district. People were very upset about overturning Roe v. Wade. … We need to find common ground, because we barely have a majority.”

Other Republicans in competitive areas are looking for ways to distinguish themselves from their party’s far-right faction.

Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, a retired Navy chief petty officer, was the only Republican lawmaker to vote against the rule package. He warned that the changes forced by the Conservatives could lead to cuts in military spending. And he indicated that he intends to continue to face his party when he sees fit.

“If you do a little bit of research on what a retired master chief is, it will become very clear why I’m going to be such a pain in the ass,” Gonzales said.

Matt Gorman, a consultant who worked for the Republican National Congressional Committee in 2018, said committee assignments for members on the right will be less important to the House majority than White House dynamics.

“A lot of this will be pushed at the presidential level in 2024,” he said.

Lance, the former congressman, argued that reappointing former President Donald Trump could cost Republicans the House.

“The reason I was not re-elected in 2018 is Donald Trump,” he said. «I don’t think it had much to do with me.»

Still, as Biden watches an announcement about his 2024 re-election plans after his Feb. 7 State of the Union address, some in the GOP recall that his former boss, President Barack Obama, ran successfully against a Republican-led House in 2012. and helped his party win seats.

“I know this well: House Republicans love to overreach,” Brendan Buck, who was an adviser to former House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, said on MSNBC, adding that the party needs to “make sure they it is focusing on real problems that real people care about. about, instead of focusing on things that only the far right is obsessed with.

“I’m not too sure that the Republicans show that kind of discipline,” he said. «And I think that’s actually what Joe Biden is relying on, that they won’t.»