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The first article of the United States Constitution establishes ¨the country’s legislative power with a bicameral Congress that is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The system thus strengthening the system of checks and balances to the legislative branch.
Led by Senator Mitch McConnell since 2015, Republicans control the Senate whose powers are to approve or reject treaties, presidential appointments to Cabinet positions, federal judges including Supreme Court justices, allowing President Trump appoint three magistrates to consolidate that court, including the recent appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. In addition, the Senate is responsible for conducting investigations and subsequent trials of government officials who have committed crimes against the United States, including the impeachment trial against the President.
Republican Party will retain the Senate majority?
The Senate is essential for the approval of budgets and all new legislation. In order for the president-elect to carry out his government program, he must have the approval of the Senates majority .
In the elections of last November 3, the citizens elected 35 members of the Senate, since the 33 corresponding to this election, two special members were also elected.
The first seat is in Arizona from John McCain and the second in Georgia for the retirement of fellow Republican John Isakso, making Georgia the only state to dispute its two seats in this election.
Georgia law requires that “if no candidate gets more than half the vote, the two leaders advance to a second round. In the elections of last November 3, the two seats did not reach this threshold and will be held in a second round on January 5.
Alaska, meanwhile, was the last state to announce results, beating Republican Senator Dan Sullivan by giving Republicans 50 seats in the Senate.
Georgia decisive for Biden
That being the case, Republican candidates for Georgia Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will define whether their party is left with the presidency of the Senate, facing Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Osssof. Since Republicans already have half the seats, Perdue’s reelection or Loeffler’s election would suffice to win the majority.
In a close election where Republican Senator David Perdue got 49. 8% vs. 47. 9% of Jon Osssof and while Democrat Raphael Warnock kept 32.9% compared to 25.9% of Republican Kelly Loeffler, Georgia becomes the main challenge for the future Biden administration.
With Republicans leading the upper house, Biden could not execute much of his government program. Republican senators have been strongly in favor of President Trump’s economic policies, around fiscal reforms, fracking, and hydrocarbons, and have been against initiatives such as expanding the Supreme Court.
If Georgia voters decided on the two Democratic candidates, the Senate would be made up of 50 Republican senators and 50 Democratic senators.
The constitution provides that the vice president acts as president of the United States Senate, but has no voting rights except to resolve ties, which in this case would give the elected Kamala Harris power decision-making power, and therefore control to Biden’s administration over the Senate.
Democrats Retain House Majority
The House of Representatives renewed its 435 members in these past elections. The lower house continues under the Democratic leadership at the head of Nancy Pelosi, despite Democrats having lost five of their seats.
The victories of Ocasio-Cortez and the so-called “squadron” together with progressive Democratic representatives Rashida Tlaib from Detroit, Ilhan Omar from Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley from Boston, give encouragement to the progressive agenda in health care, the police reform and green taxes to control climate change.
Recall that Ocasio-Cortez was one of the main defenders of the so-called “Green New Deal”, a plan that Joe Biden rejected, and which is aimed at changing the US economy from fossil fuels to electricity and renewable energy, but which in the background seeks to hang the middle class with the so-called green taxes.
Biden would have to go to executive orders in order to boost his program. The United States economy with the Republicans in the Senate would be the one led by the Trump administration due to the impossibility of executing drastic changes in the Senate and the progress made in foreign policy, regarding the Middle East peace treaties or sanctions imposed on China, nor could they be modified by the Democratic candidate.
However, the control of the House of Representatives is essential for Biden since the legislative initiative falls on it, it enjoys broad investigative powers and, very importantly, it is responsible for initiating any impeachment process.
Pelosi has said she will work closely to achieve strong results that restore Americans peace of mind, as well as advance a strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike the blockade that the Biden administration would have, Trump could continue with economic and foreign policy reforms from the Senate. The United States has been rebounding economically, and international strengthening has given Trump strong results, thanks to the upper house.
Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán