Game is still on

Democrats win control of House of Representatives, but crucial strategic advantage rests with Republican-majority Senate

By: Editorial | Published: November 9, 2018 1:17:55 am
Game is still on The Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives but the Republicans still hold sway over the Senate.

US President Donald Trump’s tweets are often windows to his worldview. Which is why, as the world sits up and takes stock of the recently concluded US mid-term elections, the best analysis possibly came from President Trump himself. He tweeted: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!” The essence of the mid-term results, distilled for brutal measure, has been presented, thus, by Trump.

The Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives but the Republicans still hold sway over the Senate. In fact, the Republicans picked up key victories in three more states. If you cut through the clutter, while the Democratic victories have created hurdles for Trump’s presidency, Trump will still have the final word, or tweet, in many crucial matters. He can carry on confirming conservative federal judges to his liking. Senate Republicans can continue to push through Cabinet nominees of their choice from attorney general to, potentially, defence secretary. So, for instance, the Democrats might have the opportunity to reopen an intelligence committee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. But the Republicans in the Senate can squeeze in a tougher candidate to fight their case, now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been asked to leave by Trump. The House Democrats have a say when it comes to, say, the migrant questions. They have already said they would help undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children through relevant policies. Trump’s enormous tax bill — to the tune of $1.5 trillion, perceived to have benefitted mostly the very wealthy — stares at uncertainty. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), that the Republicans tried to do away with, will be harder to dismantle. Climate change enthusiasts might take heart in Texan Democrat Eddie Johnson succeeding Republican Lamar Smith as chairwoman of the House Science Committee — Smith has been a consistent climate change denier.

But that tantalising question — can Trump be impeached? — is also likely to be met with a dampener: No. The Democrats could vote to impeach Trump, especially after expediting the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Or, move the motion on the basis of other incriminating investigations. But once it leaves the House, the impeachment motion has to pass a Senate majority. Bill Clinton was faced with such an impeachment motion back in the ’90s. The Senate ensured he was acquitted.

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