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Pablo Martinez Monsivais
the midterms

He's hailed them as a 'tremendous success' - but what do the midterm results mean for the Trump presidency?

The Democrats are back in control in the House – but Trump’s Republicans are still in the driving seat in the Senate.

DONALD TRUMP HAS hailed a night of ”tremendous success” for Republicans in maintaining the Senate, but the Democrat gain of the House in the midterm elections, which had been widely expected, will stymie his agenda for the rest of his four-year term. 

Widely viewed as a referendum on Trump’s presidency, the results of the election offer a split decision and reveal deep divides in the American electorate.

The significance of the GOP widening its majority in the Senate, which the party has controlled for the past four years, was magnified because of the Democrats’ expected victory in the House. 

It means the Senate will be cast in the role of blocking House-passed Democratic initiatives on everything from health care to the potential repeal of tax cuts on the wealthy that the Republicans enacted last year.

It will also give Republicans more breathing room in confirming judges, a key role of the Senate, after the fractious Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process

Actually passing many bills, however, will be difficult because the Republicans will fall well short of the 60 Senate votes needed to break through Democratic filibusters – procedural delays that kill legislation.

The Democratic victory in the House could allow Democrats to launch multiple committee investigations of the Trump administration and possibly even impeachment proceedings.

Nancy Pelosi, the veteran Democrat from California, is strongly expected to return as the next Speaker of the House.

Pelosi has said previously that she would not be looking to impeach President Donald Trump if Democrats regained control – but that won’t stop many in her party campaigning for her to launch the process. 

How likely is impeachment? 

CNN exit polls showed 77% of self-identified Democrats supported impeaching the president – around 40% of all voters. 

However, with Republicans firmly in charge in the Senate, in all likelihood any impeachment effort would run aground at the second stage. 

A majority of only 51% is needed to support impeachment in the House, but the process then moves to a trial – and at least two-two thirds of Senators would need to find the president guilty for him to be removed from office. 

“Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about restoring the constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” Nancy Pelosi told a news conference earlier. 

She added: “A Democratic Congress will work for solutions that bring us together, because we have all had enough of division.”

Pelosi will have to thread a political needle, standing up to Trump when needed but also showing that her party is capable of working with the president to get laws passed.

In her first stint, she was a strong opposing force to George W Bush in the final two years of his presidency – and her role, should she become speaker again, will be similar under a Trump administration.  

It should be noted, however, her big comeback is no foregone conclusion. With Democrats winning the House, they must now elect their leader, and Pelosi’s future will depend on the outcome of a simmering party power struggle.

Recent months have seen rising internal resistance, with dozens of House Democrats and candidates signalling their desire for change at the top. 

- With reporting from Rónan Duffy, AFP and Associated Press 

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