Last Tuesday, 112 million Americans turned out to vote in the 2022 Midterm Elections, yet results of who will control Congress for the next two years remain unclear. In the American political system, midterm elections occur halfway through a presidential term and are used to determine which party will control the two chambers of Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Impact’s Maria Sadek talks us through the results and what they might mean for America.
Before the election, many predicted a ‘red wave’ would sweep the nation as Republicans were expected to control both the House and the Senate with significant majorities, given the declining approval rating of Democratic president Joe Biden. However, despite delays in counting due to the decentralisation of the American electoral process, it is becoming clear that this momentous sweep did not occur.
Many media outlets are still projecting that the Republicans will gain control of the House
Despite their victory not being as extensive as first expected, many media outlets are still projecting that the Republicans will gain control of the House of Representatives. CNBC currently expects the party to win 220 of 435 seats available in the House, which is only two more than the 218 needed for a majority. Although this is a far cry from the sweeping victory expected from Republicans, it would still mean that they will control the lower chamber of Congress for the first time since 2019.
However, while it is clear that Democrats will have control over the Senate, after their win Nevada, we will have to wait to see whether they have a straight majority or not. Since neither nominee in Georgia was able to win the majority of the vote, the state has announced that it will hold a runoff election on 6 December to establish a winner. However, despite the Democrats currently only having 50 seats in the Senate they will control it no matter who wins in Georgia. This is because as Vice President, Kamala Harris has a casting vote and can bring the Democratic vote total up to the 51 needed for a majority.
Republican control of the House will mean that passing new liberal-leaning bills would become almost impossible
Regardless of the result in the Senate, the Republicans’ expected victory in the House still poses significant challenges to the Biden administration. Over the past two years, Biden has been on the offensive, trying to implement a variety of legislation such as his Build Back Better plan and the Freedom to Vote act. However, Republican control of the House will mean that passing new liberal-leaning bills would become almost impossible for Biden, and he will be forced to focus on defending and protecting measures he has already put into place.
This does not mean that any hope for further executive legislation, such as bills to protect health care spending or voting rights, would be stymied. On the contrary, given that he remains president, he will still have the power to veto any conservative bills that the new Republican House tries to pass, such as a federal attack on abortion. Ultimately, this means that Republican success in the House, regardless of who wins the Senate, will bring the American government close to a stalemate.
Despite the final results remaining unclear, a certainty to come out of the 2022 midterms is that the next two years will be difficult in the world of American politics. With Trump’s announcement of his bid in the 2024 election expected over the coming days, politics will remain a polarising force in the nation for the foreseeable future, with these midterms providing a stark reminder of this fact.
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