WASHINGTON: Opposition Democrats captured the House of Representatives on Wednesday in the crucial midterm elections while President Donald Trump’s Republican Party retained its majority in the Senate, an outcome likely to intensify the political bitterness and fighting between the two major parties in the run-up to the 2020 presidential poll.
Breaking the Republican monopoly on power, Democrats picked up over two dozen seats in the House – more than the 23 needed to take control of the House for the first time in eight years.
Initial statements coming from the Democratic party leaders indicated it would make it tough for Trump, who wants major legislative changes on some of his signature issues including immigration, tax and healthcare reforms.
By capturing the House of Representatives, the Democrats may exert a major institutional check on Trump and break the Republican monopoly in Washington.
Trump, who campaigned aggressively in the last several weeks, expressed satisfaction over the results. “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” Trump said in a brief tweet.
In the House of Representatives, the Democrats were on course to seize at least 27 seats from Republican hands – enough for the majority in the 435-membered chamber.
In the outgoing House, the Republicans had 235 seats while the Democrats 193. The new House would come into being next January.
All four incumbent members of the so-called ‘Samosa Caucus’ – an informal group of the Indian-Americans in the US Congress – were re-elected to the House of Representatives.
In the eighth Congressional district of Illinois, Raja Krishnamoorthi defeated his Republican Indian-American rival Jitender Diganvker.
Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian American to be elected to the House of Representatives in 2016, registered her second consecutive win from the seventh Congressional district of Washington state. Ro Khanna easily sailed through the race for the House from the 17th Congressional district of California.
Three-term Congressman Ami Bera, the senior-most among lawmakers in the Samosa Caucus, defeated his Republican rival Andrew Grant in the seventh Congressional district of California.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, 78, is expected to be re-elected as Speaker of House of Representatives, which is equivalent to India’s Lok Sabha.
In her victory speech in Washington DC, Pelosi said the party would use its newly-won majority to pursue a bipartisan agenda for a country. Pelosi said Americans have all “had enough of division”.
“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” she said standing alongside other Democratic House leaders.
Trump called Pelosi Tuesday night to offer congratulations, her office said.
A record number of close to 100 women, majority of them being Democrats, won seats in the House, a massive victory for female candidates across the political spectrum.
At least 28 of them were elected to the House for the first time. The elections also resulted in Rashida Tlaib becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the House of Representatives along with Somali-American Ilhan Omar.
For the Democrats taking control of the House gives them an opportunity to be more assertive in the Congress and prevent Trump for achieving his legislative agenda. “The Democratic Party is back,” said Democratic national committee chair Tom Perez.
However, the ruling Republican Party retained its majority in the 100-member Senate where it currently has a razor-thin majority of 51-49 seats. Thirty-five of the 100 Senate seats went to polls. The news reports said the GOP had won at least 51 seats.
The crucial polls, marking the first major voter test of Trump, are seen as a referendum on his controversial policies, including those on immigration.
In his campaign rallies, Trump had said that he was on the ballot and made it a referendum on his nearly two years rule.
The US President who headlined an unprecedented 50 rallies – 30 in the last two months alone – and has campaigned for dozens of candidates at all levels of government, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, watched the results come in with friends and family in the White House residence.
In victory, ‘The Washington Post’ said Democrats regained some of the confidence – although less of the power – they lost in 2016, when Trump won a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.