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Decryption | Biden in an awkward posture



(New York) With or without a Democratic majority in the Senate, Joe Biden should have a hard time during the second half of his term. In all likelihood, he will have to face at least one chamber of Congress that will seek to undermine his presidency and perhaps even end it.

What you need to know

  • The Republican wave did not break as expected;
  • As of 11:10 a.m. Thursday, control of the Senate and House of Representatives had yet to be determined;
  • For a majority in the Senate, 51 seats are needed. For the House of Representatives, 218 are needed;
  • Democrat John Fetterman of Pennsylvania won the Senate race against Republican star Dr. Mehmet Oz;
  • According to the Fivethirtyeight website, as of 11:10 a.m., both Democrats and Republicans hold 48 Senate seats;
  • As for the House of Representatives, Democrats held 200 seats, Republicans held 210.

In the aftermath of the midterm elections, this prospect did not seem to trouble the Democratic president unduly, who again mentioned his intention to seek a second term in 2024.

It must be said that these elections produced rare results in the political history of the United States: rather than severely sanctioning the party in power in the White House, as is tradition, they made it suffer a defeat whose the president was downright bragging.

“While the press and pundits were predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen,” Joe Biden said Wednesday afternoon at a White House press conference, after calling the election a mid-term of “good day for democracy” and “for America”.

“The Democrats had a good night,” he added, while acknowledging voters’ frustrations with the economy and inflation.

We lost fewer House seats than any other Democratic president in his first midterm election in the past 40 years. And we had the best midterm elections for governors since 1986.

Joe Biden, President of the United States

This half-hearted electoral verdict is due to an unusual fact: no media has yet attributed to one of the parties the majority of the House of Representatives or the Senate, more than 36 hours after the closing of most of the offices of ballot.

Everything indicates, however, that the Republicans will achieve the net gain of at least five seats that they need to win a majority in the House. And even if this majority is much shorter than announced by the tenors of their party, they will be able to use it to multiply the investigations on the Biden administration, to engage in arm wrestling on government spending or to launch procedures. of impeachment against the president or any other senior government official, which the most radical among them have promised to do.

Joe Biden would obviously have an easier time if the Democrats retained control of the Senate, which remains a possibility.

Georgia, Nevada and Arizona

The majority in the upper house of Congress is played out in three states: Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Pending the final results of these extremely tight elections, the Republicans are already guaranteed to hold 49 of the 100 seats in the Senate, against 48 for the Democrats.

In Georgia, a second round of voting is due to take place on December 6 between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and former footballer Herschel Walker. Because none of them crossed the threshold of 50% of the votes necessary to be elected in the first round. After counting 95% of the votes, Warnock had collected 49.4% against 48.5% for Walker.


Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for senator from Georgia, at a rally in Atlanta on Wednesday

In Arizona, Democratic Senator Mike Kelly was ahead of his Republican rival, Blake Masters, by 5 percentage points after 70% of the votes were counted. And in Nevada, Republican contender Adam Laxalt led Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto by 3 percentage points after 78% of the votes were counted.

If Kelly defends his seat in Arizona and Laxalt takes Masto’s in Nevada, then the Senate majority will again be decided in Georgia, as it did after the 2020 election.

It could be several days before the House majority winner is confirmed, due to mail-in ballot counting, and weeks before the Senate majority winner is known, due to the second tour in Georgia.

An outstretched hand from Biden

While refusing to concede the advantage to the Republicans in the battle for the House, Joe Biden reached out to the opposition during his press conference.

“Regardless of the end result of this election, I’m ready to work with my fellow Republicans,” he said.

He did, however, indicate that he would veto any bill intended to ban abortion nationwide, a key issue in the midterm elections.

The powers that Joe Biden will be able to exercise during the last two years of his mandate will largely depend on the party that will control the Senate. If Republicans win a majority, they will be able to block all nominations for the president as judge, ambassador or senior official in his administration.

This systematic blocking could also extend to any legislative initiative that the president would like to propose.

Joe Biden would thus be reduced to imitating Barack Obama when the latter found himself facing a Congress with a Republican majority. In particular, he could use his pen to pass measures by executive order or to veto Republican bills.

And he could take advantage of the prestige of his position to launch his campaign for the presidential election of 2024. At a press conference, he indicated that he would make a final decision on this subject at the beginning of next year.

Trump criticized

One of his potential rivals, Donald Trump, was the subject of much criticism the day after an electoral meeting where his influence was deemed harmful by members of his own party. About to retire, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, whose seat was won by Democrat John Fetterman, said the Republican Party must distance itself from Trump after the election “debacle” in his state. Candidates supported by the former president, including the Dr Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano lost crucial senator and gubernatorial elections there.


The Dr Mehmet Oz, defeated candidate for senator from Pennsylvania, at a rally in Philadelphia on Tuesday night

Donald Trump did not respond directly to his criticisms. He did, however, indirectly attack one of the big winners of the Republican midterm elections, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose presidential ambitions seem to irritate him to no end.

“Now that the election in Florida is over, and everything has gone well, shouldn’t it be said that in 2020, I got 1.1 million more votes in Florida than Ron D this year , 5.7 million against 4.6 million? It’s a simple question,” he wrote on Truth Social.

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