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The United States will have a “divided government” starting in January.
The term refers to a situation where one or both houses of Congress are controlled by a party other than the current president, currently Democrat Joe Biden.
The control that the Republican Party achieved over the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, according to forecasts issued on Wednesday evening, means that the United States will have a government of this type when the new representatives take office.
Divided governments have been very common since the 1970s, the most recent it was given During the last two years of Donald Trump’s presidencywhen the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives in Congress.
Experts predict that the Republicans regaining the majority of the House of Representatives lost in 2018 could mean two years of political confrontation with few legislative achievements.
“I think a bipartisan agreement is going to be very difficult, given the huge bipartisan divide on almost every major issue facing the country,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University who has written several books on US elections. to BBC Mundo.
Republicans have secured the 218 seats needed to gain a majority in the lower house of Congress, predicted CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.
Republicans will have between 218 and 223 representatives in the 435-seat House, according to CBS.
This majority is slim, but enough to disrupt President Biden’s agenda for the next two years.
Democrats managed to maintain their minimum majority in the Senate during the Tuesday 8th election, avoiding the wave of Republican victories that many expected.
Having the House and Senate in different party hands, even by small margins, can have several consequences.
In the United States, each House can initiate a legislative process. A bill must be approved by both, before it is sent to the president for signature into law.
A law can die at any point if either house votes against it, or if the president vetoes it.
Abramowitz indicated that controlling the House of Representatives could give Republicans more power to open investigations into the Biden government, and try to remove some of its members or even the president himself.
But, he added, the fact that Democrats retain control of the Senate means the president will still be able to nominate top government officials or federal judges, including from the Supreme Court, without the Republican minority being able to block him.
Some people support divided government because it means that each political party can police the other, for example by curbing unwanted spending measures or preventing certain bills from becoming laws.
Recently, businessman and current Twitter owner Elon Musk advised his millions of followers on the social network to vote Republican in the midterm elections, because President Biden is a Democrat.
He said his reasoning is that “Common power contains the worst excesses of both sides.”.
Advantages and disadvantages
The control achieved in the House of Representatives brings some relief to the Republican Party after the disappointment of the midterm elections.
But to assert that majority by a narrow margin, House Republicans will need to act in unity as new signs of difference emerge within their ranks.
Many Republicans blamed Trump for the failed attempt to achieve a stronger majority in the House of Representatives and also regain control of the Senate, despite President Biden’s declining popularity and high inflation rates in the United States.
While none of the ballots included his name, Trump has endorsed candidates like himself who refuse to concede their defeat in the 2020 election and lost key races for Republican control of the Senate.
Despite this and growing doubts about his ability to win the election, Trump announced Tuesday that he would run for president again in 2024.
The task of uniting Republicans in Congress will largely fall to Kevin McCarthy, who was nominated Tuesday to lead the party’s new majority in the House of Representatives.
If McCarthy, the Republican representative from California, achieves this unity, Biden will have more trouble pushing his agenda.
Divided governments can force lawmakers to introduce laws that have a broader base of support, making it more difficult to overturn them when power shifts.
In this case, cooperation provides legislative stability.
But when parties are polarized in their positions, as they are now, a divided government can make it impossible for one party to pass laws, leading to a stalemate where it is difficult to advance policies for the entire country.
Major legislative changes often occurred under one-party governments, such as new deal President Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare.
Divided governments can also lead to more government shutdownswhich occurs when the two parties do not agree on a budget to continue public funding.
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