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November 13, 2022 2:40 pm
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Democrats Keep Control of US Senate, Crush Republican ‘Red Wave’ Hopes

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

US President Joe Biden makes a statement about the US midterm elections during his visit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 13, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Democrats held onto control of the US Senate while limiting projected losses in the House, handing a major victory to President Joe Biden and extinguishing hopes of the “red wave” that Republicans had expected leading into the midterm elections.

Biden, who struggled with low approval ratings ahead of Tuesday’s elections, partly due to public frustration over inflation, said the late Saturday outcome made him look forward to the remainder of his term in office.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described it as a “victory and vindication” for Democrats and their agenda. He accused the Republican Party of stoking fear and division during the campaign.

Republicans, however, remained close to seizing control of the House of Representatives as officials continued counting ballots.

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It could take several days or more before the outcome of enough House races is known to determine which party will control the 435-seat chamber. Returns were still flowing in for several races, including many in liberal-leaning California.

As of late on Saturday, Republicans had won 211 seats and the Democrats 205, with 218 needed for a majority.

“The American people rejected the anti-democratic, authoritarian, nasty and divisive direction the MAGA Republicans wanted to take our country,” Schumer said after Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election win in Nevada sealed control of the chamber for Biden’s Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, told ABC News and CNN that she would not make any announcements about whether she planned to remain in House leadership until after control of the chamber was decided.

There had been speculation she would resign if Democrats lost the majority, especially after her husband was attacked by an intruder at their San Francisco home last month.

FOCUSING ON GEORGIA

The Democrats will control the Senate, as they have for the past two years, with 50 of its 100 seats, as Vice President Kamala Harris holds a tie-breaking vote.

If Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock were to win the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff election against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, the Democrats’ 51-49 majority would give them an additional edge in passing the few bills that are able to advance with a simple majority, instead of the 60 needed for most legislation.

“We’re focusing now on Georgia. We feel good about where we are,” Biden said on Sunday in Cambodia ahead of an East Asia summit. “I am incredibly pleased by the turnout.”

Hovering over the 2022 midterm elections all year has been former President Donald Trump, who used his continued popularity among hard-right conservatives to influence the candidates the Republican Party nominated for congressional, gubernatorial and local races.

With Republicans’ lackluster performance – even if they win a narrow majority in the House – Trump has been blamed for boosting candidates who were unable to appeal to a broad enough electorate.

A Republican loss in Georgia could further dampen Trump’s popularity as advisers say he considers announcing this week a third run for the presidency in 2024.

The outcome may increase the chances that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who routed his Democratic opponent on Tuesday, opts to challenge Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination.

Democrats had portrayed Republicans as extremist, pointing to the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate a nationwide right to abortion and the hundreds of Republican nominees who promoted Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

Pelosi attributed the better-than-predicted performance to Democratic candidates maintaining focus on the issues that voters cared about even as pundits in Washington predicted big losses and called 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 control of the Senate means Democrats will still be able to approve Biden’s nominees such as federal judges. That would include appointees to the Supreme Court should any vacancies open in the next two years on the bench with a 6-3 conservative majority.

House Republicans, should they prevail, have pledged to try to roll back Biden victories on battling climate change and want to make permanent a series of 2017 tax cuts set to expire. They also have vowed investigations into Biden administration activities and probes of the president’s son, who has had business dealings with Ukraine and China.

Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, said on Sunday that he expected his party to win a slim majority in the House and serve as “the last line of defense to block the Biden agenda,” while launching investigations into the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origin of COVID and pandemic lockdowns.

“That has to be a focal point of every single committee in the Congress, especially in the House under Republican control,” Banks said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

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