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Wednesday , September 18 2019

Dems own House, Senate for Trump

HOUSE TURN COULD ECHO IN MOSCOW, BEIJING, RIYADH

The US Capitol building is pictured on Nov 7, in Washington, DC. (AFP)

WASHINGTON, Nov 7, (AP): Democrats seized the House majority from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party on Tuesday in a suburban revolt that threatened what’s left of the president’s governing agenda. But the GOP gained ground in the Senate and preserved key governorships, beating back a “blue wave” that never fully materialized.

The mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Trump’s presidency underscored the limits of his hardline immigration rhetoric in America’s evolving political landscape, where college-educated voters in the nation’s suburbs rejected his warnings of a migrant “invasion.” But blue-collar voters and rural America embraced his aggressive talk and stances.

The new Democratic House majority will end the Republican Party’s dominance in Washington for the final two years of Trump’s first term with major questions looming about healthcare, immigration and government spending.

“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who would be in line to become the next House Speaker. But the Democrats’ edge is narrow. With 218 seats needed for a majority, Democrats have won 219 and the Republicans 193, with winners undetermined in 23 races.

Trump was expected to address the results at a post-election news conference scheduled for midday Wednesday. The president’s party will maintain control of the executive branch of the government, in addition to the Senate, but Democrats suddenly have a foothold that gives them subpoena power to probe deep into Trump’s personal and professional missteps — and his long-withheld tax returns.

Early Wednesday, Trump warned Democrats against using their new majority to investigate his administration. “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level,” Trump tweeted, “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!” It wasn’t clear what “leaks” he was referring to.

It could have been a much bigger night for Democrats, who suffered stinging losses in Ohio and in Florida, where Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis ended Democrat Andrew Gillum’s bid to become the state’s first African-American governor. The 2018 elections also exposed an extraordinary political realignment in an electorate defined by race, gender, and education that could shape US politics for years to come. The GOP’s successes were fueled by a coalition that’s decidedly older, whiter, more male and less likely to have college degrees. Democrats relied more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates. Record diversity on the ballot may have helped drive turnout. Voters were on track to send at least 99 women to the House, shattering the record of 84 now.

The House was also getting its first two Muslim women, Massachusetts elected its first black congresswoman, and Tennessee got its first female senator. Three candidates had hoped to become their states’ first African- American governors, although just one — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams — was still in the running. Overall, women voted considerably more in favor of congressional Democratic candidates — with fewer than 4 in 10 voting for Republicans, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 115,000 voters and about 20,000 nonvoters — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago. In suburban areas where key House races were decided, female voters skewed significantly toward Democrats by a nearly 10-point margin. Democrats celebrated a handful of victories in their “blue wall” Midwestern states, electing or re-electing governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker was defeated by state education chief Tony Evers.

The road to a House majority ran through two dozen suburban districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats flipped seats in suburban districts outside of Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Denver. Democrats also reclaimed a handful of bluecollar districts carried by both former president Barack Obama and Trump. The results were more mixed deeper into Trump country.

In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids beat a GOP incumbent to become the first gay Native American woman elected to the House. But in Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy Mc- Grath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep Andy Barr. Trump sought to take credit for retaining the GOP’s Senate majority, even as the party lost control of the House. In a tweet Wednesday, he referred to the election results as a “Big Victory.”

Moscow to Riyadh
The Democratic victory in the US House of Representatives could echo from Moscow to Beijing to Riyadh, with empowered Democrats now able to launch new investigations into Trump’s international business empire and his political dealings with the rest of the world.

On Wednesday, China said it didn’t want to comment directly on the election results. “It’s their domestic affair. I don’t want to comment on that, otherwise I will run the risk of being accused of interfering in their midterm election,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

“Regardless of the result … we believe the two governments and the two peoples all want to maintain the sound and steady development of bilateral relations because we believe it is in the best interests of the international community,” Hua said.

For Moscow, the Democratic victory means a probable reopening of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Republicanled Intelligence Committee closed its probe into Russian meddling, saying it had found no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Democrats, though, have long said the Republicans ignored a string of key facts and witnesses. Then there’s Saudi Arabia, and the relationship between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump’s sonin- law, Jared Kushner. The ties between the two men, who are said to communicate frequently, could come under increased scrutiny by Democrats.

The US and Saudi Arabia have long been key allies, and Trump made the country his first stop abroad as president. But the crown prince has lost supporters in Congress since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Prince Mohammed, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2. Prince Mohammed is widely suspected of at least having knowledge of the killing, which was allegedly carried out by agents close to him.

The fallout for Saudi Arabia could be immense, with Democrats possibly trying to block major arms sales to Saudi Arabia and curtail US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which the prince launched as defense minister in 2015.

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