PHOENIX, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate while limiting projected losses in the House, giving President Joe Biden a major victory and quenching hopes of the “red wave” that Republicans expected to lead to the midterm elections.
Democratic leaders described the result – sealed on Saturday night by a victory for the incumbent senator from Nevada – as both a vindication of their program and a rebuke to Republican candidates, many of whom had repeated former President Donald’s false claims. Trump on widespread voter fraud.
“We were on the verge of autocracy and, thank God, the American people rolled us back in this election,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday at a press conference.
The better-than-expected performance gave Biden, who was struggling with low approval ratings ahead of Tuesday’s election amid still-high inflation, political momentum ahead of what are expected to be intense talks on a range of geopolitical issues. with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday in Indonesia.
Republicans, however, remained on course to take control of the House of Representatives as officials continued to count the ballots, with returns continuing to pour in for several races, including many in liberal-leaning California.
As of Saturday night, Republicans had won 211 seats and Democrats 205, with 218 needed for a majority. It could take several days before the outcome of enough House races is known to determine which party will control the 435-seat chamber.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, told ABC News and CNN she would make no announcement about whether she plans to stay on as House leader before House control is removed. decided. There had been speculation that she would quit if the Democrats lost a majority, especially after her husband was attacked by an intruder at their San Francisco home last month.
House Republicans, if they win, have pledged to try to roll back Biden-led legislation to tackle climate change and want to make permanent a series of 2017 tax cuts that are set to expire. They also promised investigations into the activities of the Biden administration and investigations into the president’s son, who had business dealings with Ukraine and China.
Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, said Sunday he expected his party to win a narrow majority in the House and serve as a “last line of defense to block Biden’s agenda.” , while launching investigations into the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. , the origin of COVID and pandemic lockdowns.
“This needs to be a focal point of every congressional committee, especially in the Republican-controlled House,” Banks said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”
FOCUS ON GEORGIA
Democrats will control the Senate, as they have for two years, with 50 of its 100 seats, under Vice President Kamala Harris holding the deciding vote.
Their majority was won by Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who narrowly beat Republican Adam Laxalt.
“When the national pundits said I couldn’t win, I knew Nevada would prove them wrong,” Cortez Masto said in a victory speech Sunday morning.
For the Senate, the focus will now shift to Georgia, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will face off in a runoff on Dec. 6. If Warnock were to win, the Democrats’ 51-49 majority would give them an extra advantage. by passing the few bills that are able to move forward by a simple majority, instead of the 60 needed for most laws.
Trump has been hovering over the 2022 midterm elections all year, which has used his continued popularity among far-right conservatives to sway the candidates the Republican Party has nominated for the congressional races, running for office. of governor and local.
With Republicans performing poorly — even though they get a slim majority in the House — Trump has been blamed for boosting candidates who couldn’t appeal to a large enough electorate.
A Republican defeat in Georgia could further hurt Trump’s popularity as advisers say he plans to announce a third run for president in 2024 this week.
The result could boost the odds that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who routed his Democratic challenger on Tuesday, will choose to challenge Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination.
Democrats had portrayed Republicans as extremists, pointing to the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate a national abortion right and the hundreds of Republican candidates who promoted Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.
Pelosi credited his party’s performance to Democratic candidates knowing their constituencies and focusing on issues that mattered to voters, even as Washington pundits were predicting big losses and calling for a change in approach.
“They knew the value of a woman’s right to choose. They knew how important it was to protect our democracy. They knew the contrast between themselves and their opponents,” Pelosi told ABC.
Continued Senate scrutiny means Democrats will still be able to endorse Biden nominees such as federal judges. That would include Supreme Court appointees if vacancies open up over the next two years on the bench with a 6-3 Conservative majority.
Reporting by Tim Reid in Phoenix and Kanishka Singh, Richard Cowan and Jason Lange and Joel Schectman in Washington; Written by Kanishka Singh and Nathan Layne; Editing by William Mallard and Bill Berkrot
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