Midterm election: Control of US Congress still up for grabs

World Wednesday 09/November/2022 15:39 PM
By: DW
Midterm election: Control of US Congress still up for grabs

Washington: Uncertainty loomed over the future of US President Joe Biden's agenda on Wednesday as his Democratic Party vied to maintain control of Congress.

Voters went the polls on Tuesday to pick candidates for all 435 seats in the lower chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, where all delegates serve two-year terms. Meanwhile, 35 Senate seats were up for grabs.

Biden's low approval ratings amid high inflation had been expected to serve a blow to the Democratic Party.

Even following Democrats' better-than-expected results in several state races, Republicans appeared poised to take control of the House of Representatives while the outcome of several Senate races — and ultimate control of the chamber currently split 50-50 — remained too close to call.

Republicans set to take the House
Republicans were expected to pick up enough seats to win control of the House of Representatives.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority leader who could become the speaker, staked his party's claim for majority early Wednesday.

"Now let me tell you, you're out late, but when you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority and [Democratic House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi will be in the minority," he said early Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pelosi said: "While many races remain too close to call, it is clear that House Democratic Members and candidates are strongly outperforming expectations across the country."

Still, Democrats had a House win to celebrate. Maxwell Alejandro Frost, 25, won handily over his Republican rival in Florida, becoming the first member of Generation Z to win a seat in Congress.

Too early to call Senate
The 100-seat upper chamber has been split 50-50 between the two parties but considered blue as US Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, has the tie-breaking vote.

But who gets the Senate majority now is still uncertain, as it is too early to call seats in Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona.

A tight race for Georgia's Senate seat seemed particularly likely to head to a runoff on December 6.

Democrats flipped the Republican-controlled Senate seat of Pennsylvania. John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz, marking a key win for Democrats as they vie to maintain their hold on the Senate.

In Ohio, Republican JD Vance won against Democrat and 10-term congressman Tim Ryan. Vance is set to replace Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is retiring.

Governors races
Republicans held on to governors' seats in Florida, Texas and Georgia.

Republican Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, two likely future potential presidential contenders, held on to their governors' seats.

Georgia's Republican Governor Brain Kemp also won over his 2018 challenger Stacey Abrams, who had been seeking to become the first Black female governor in US history.

But other Democrats made history. Wes Moore became Maryland's first Black governor, and Massachusetts' Maura Healy is set to become the first openly lesbian governor of a US state.

Sarah Sanders, one of former President Donald Trump's press secretaries and who served in the former president's administration between 2017 and 2019, has been elected the next governor of Arkansas, according to projections from the Associated Press. She will become the first woman to lead the state after defeating Democratic nominee Chris Jones.
What does this mean for Biden?

Until now, the Democrats had controlled the House of Representatives, albeit by only a handful of seats, and needed to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes in an evenly split Senate.

Should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, Biden would have a considerably more difficult time getting lawmakers to pass the legislation he supports.

A Republican-led House would also be able to launch inquiries that could bog down US politics. Ahead of the election, Republican politicians had promised investigations of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the business dealings of Biden's son Hunter. Senator Ted Cruz predicted that Republicans would impeach Biden if they win back House, saying, "I do think there's a chance of that, whether it's justified or not."
What does it mean for Trump?

Biden's predecessor Donald Trump tried to take center stage on the eve of the election.

Seeking to make a comeback, he told a rally that he would be making a "very big announcement" next week, possibly hinting at seeking the Republican presidential nomination for the 2024 race.

But Trump's likely challanger for the party's nomination, Florida's DeSantis, added to his growing popularity by holding on to his governor's seat with around 20% of the votes.

Meanwhile, several Trump-backed candidates in different races lost, most notably Oz in Pennsylvania.