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Republican Party Keeps Control Of U.S. Senate, House

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Senate Republican leaders, including John McCain (center) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right)

U.S. Senate Republican leaders, including John McCain (center) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right)

The Republican Party has retained control of both houses of the U.S. Congress, preserving majorities that could provide considerable legislative muscle to Republican President-elect Donald Trump after one of the most bitterly divisive campaigns in modern U.S. political history.

Republicans defended vulnerable Senate seats in swing states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, and New Hampshire, where a particularly strong Democratic turnout in the November 8 elections had the potential to go against their candidates.

But with two Senate races still undecided, Republicans had locked up a slim majority in the 100-member upper house, allowing them to steer key votes over their Democratic rivals.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the seats of all 435 legislators were up for grabs, but the Republican margin of control was much greater there and the party appeared to easily maintain its grip on the chamber.

Returns on November 9 suggested Republicans had won a clear majority with at least 237 seats to the Democrats' 192 in the House, with six still in the balance.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican congressman from the state of Wisconsin, said on November 9 that he planned to stay on as the speaker of the House of Representatives.

"After eight years of the Obama administration, the American people have chosen a new direction for our nation. President-elect Trump has a significant opportunity to bring our nation together," Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, said.

"It is my hope and intent that we succeed in the years ahead by working together with our colleagues across the aisle to strengthen our national and economic security."

With most polls suggesting Clinton was the front-runner leading into Election Day and many leading Republicans distancing themselves from Trump, there were fears among Republicans that a bruising defeat could cost them their majority in the Senate and in local races further down the ticket.

The party that controls the Senate has near total control over the president's appointees, all of whom are subject to the "advice and consent" of the Senate.

Many of President Barack Obama's picks to fill judgeships, cabinet positions, commission seats, and other important appointed positions have been delayed or put on hold indefinitely. Republicans in the current Senate, for example, have refused since March to vote on Obama's pick to fill a vacancy on the high court.

The Senate also has the power to approve treaties made by the executive branch, and to conduct impeachment trials.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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