Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives after an eight-year one-party rule in Congress. However, in a “blue wave” that was more of a “ripple”, Republicans have tightened their grip on the Senate.
Despite losses in the lower chamber of Congress, president Donald Trump declared the midterm election a “tremendous success” as Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate, paving the way for a divided Congress.
Promoting himself on Twitter, he focused on the Senate, quoting the following from a commentator:
“There’s only been five times in the last 105 years that an incumbent president has won seats in the Senate in the off year election. Mr. Trump has magic about him. This guy has magic coming out of his ears. He is an astonishing vote getter & campaigner.”
The primary role of Congress—consisting of the House (its lower chamber) and the Senate (its upper chamber)—is to make and pass laws. A legislative proposal only becomes law once the House, the Senate and then the President, have approved it.
Consequently, that the Republicans lost the House to the Democrats could actually mean that Trump’s final two years of term have just become severely limited. Although his name was not on the ballot as a higher-than-usual number of voters elected Congress members on Tuesday November 6, the election was considered a referendum on Trump’s America.
Democrats needed to pick up 23 House seats in tallies early Wednesday, results that could enable the party to block much of Trump’s legislative agenda as well as issue investigations into his administration and business affairs. The Democrats now control the Intelligence Committee—responsible for considering potential Russian collusion in the last presidential election.
It will also be more difficult for Republicans to make changes to health legislation, including Barack Obama’s healthcare law, and could cause problems for Trump’s plans to build a border wall with Mexico. By passing laws out of the House, it will also force Republican senators to consider subjects like minimum wage.
The increased Republican majority in the Senate however, will make it easier for Trump to appoint judges and remake the judicial branch—a branch of government that interprets laws in the name of the state—into a more conservative system.
Democrats also flipped six governorships in the election, including Kansas, where Laura Kelly beat Trump ally, Kris Kobach. Two victorious Muslim Democrats—Ihan Omar (Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan)—made minority firsts, along with elected Democrat governor, Jared Polis (Colorado), the first openly gay man to be voted into the position.
A record year for women, at least 90 female candidates won their elections, the majority of whom were Democrats and at least 28 of whom were sent to Congress by voters for the first time. Sharice Davids (Kansas) and Deb Haaland (New Mexicao) became the first Native American women to be elected. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) became the first woman in her 20s to win a seat, and was later joined by 29-year old Abby Finkenauer (Iowa).
House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, spoke in Washington. “Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” she told supporters.
Trump allegedly called Pelosi “to extend his congratulations on winning a Democratic House Majority,” her deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted.
“He acknowledged the Leader’s call for bipartisanship in her victory remarks.”
According to an exit poll survey conducted by the Associated Press, healthcare and immigration were at the top of issues expressed by voters, and 64 percent of those surveyed revealed that Trump factored into their choice when casting their ballots.