Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Biden insists US midterm elections were a ‘good day for democracy’

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President Joe Biden, in his first public comments on the outcome of the midterm elections, said his takeaway is that voters were clear that they are still frustrated with record inflation, crime and other issues. “I get it,” Biden said at the White House.

Biden, whose Democratic Party managed to dodge significant losses, stated on Wednesday that the Tuesday vote was a “good day for democracy”.

“Democracy has been tested in recent years but with their votes, the American people have spoken,” he stated.

Speaking about the possibility of Republicans gaining a majority in either of the two houses of the US Congress, Biden said he was “open to any good ideas” and was “ready to compromise with Republicans if it makes sense.”

The US president, however, pointed out that any cooperation between the two parties would not come at the expense of Medicare cuts or social security.

Biden said he sees no need to “change anything in any fundamental way,” indicating that agenda — from tackling climate change to prescription drug costs — must ‘kick in’.

Senate still up for grabs as the count continues

Republicans were closing in Wednesday on a narrow House majority while control of the Senate hinged on a series of tight races.

The midterm election still defied expectations of sweeping conservative victories driven by frustration over inflation and Biden’s leadership.

Either party could secure a Senate majority with wins in both Nevada and Arizona — where the races were too early to call. 

But there was a strong possibility that, for the second time in two years, the Senate majority could come down to a runoff in Georgia next month, with Democratic Senators Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker failing to earn enough votes to win outright.

In the House, Democrats kept seats in districts from Virginia to Kansas to Rhode Island, while many in states like New York and California had not been called. 

But Republicans notched several important victories in their bid to get to the 218 seats needed to reclaim the House majority. 

In a particularly symbolic victory, the Republicans toppled House Democratic campaign chief Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.

A small House majority a challenge for the Republican Party?

Control of Congress will be a key factor in determining the future of Biden’s agenda and serve as a referendum on his administration as the nation reels from record-high inflation and concerns over the direction of the country. 

A Republican House majority would likely trigger a spate of investigations into Biden and his family, while a Republican Senate takeover would hobble the president’s ability to make judicial appointments.

Democrats, however, saw candidates who prioritised protecting abortion rights after this summer’s Supreme Court decision overturning the landmark Roe v Wade court decision perform well. 

The party won governors’ races in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — battlegrounds critical to Biden’s 2020 win over Donald Trump. 

But Republicans held on to governors’ mansions in Florida, Texas and Georgia, another battleground state Biden narrowly won two years ago.

Even if the Republicans ultimately win the House, it would not represent a margin as large as during other midterm cycles. 

Democrats gained a net of 41 House seats under Trump in 2018, President Barack Obama saw the GOP gain 63 gain in 2010, and Republicans gained 54 seats in 1994 during the Bill Clinton administration.

A small majority in the House would pose a great challenge for the Republicans and especially California Representative Kevin McCarthy, who is in line to be House speaker and would have little room for error in navigating a chamber of members eager to leverage their votes to advance their own agenda.

Though neither party had yet secured a majority in either congressional chamber, the midterms — on track to be the most expensive ever — did not feature a strong Republican surge, uplifting for Democrats who had braced for sweeping losses.



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