Both sides can say they won the 2018 midterm elections.
Democrats regained the House majority for the first time since 2010.
Republicans not only held but added to their majority in the upper chamber.
That split decision won’t likely lead to a lot of deal-making in the new Congress next year, though both House Democrats and Senate Republicans will need to point to accomplishments when their majorities will be up for grabs in 2020.
Here’s what to look for the rest of 2018 and into the new year.
The focus will be on the House and the big question is: Who will be the next Speaker? Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE (D-Calif.) is the odds-on favorite, but she will have to offer concessions to restless members of the Democratic Caucus who have publicly called for new leadership.
Pelosi, 78, has already floated the notion of being a “transitional” Speaker, though that is unlikely to win over her Democratic critics. And what exactly does “transitional” mean? Is that two, four or six more years? Pelosi will be pressed on this question. However, Pelosi has the experience of leading the House during a Republican president and passing landmark legislation, most notably the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans already were finger-pointing before the election about losing the House and that will only intensify now. House Republicans will blame the White House, and the president will likely point to the large number (44) of House GOP retirements — including the decision by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won’t support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here’s why Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) to leave Congress.
Republicans contend that the fight over now-Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senators urge Trump to back off Murkowski threat Judd Gregg: A government in free fall The 7 most anticipated Supreme Court decisions MORE and immigration rhetoric helped cement their Senate majority. But there will be much debate over whether that closing argument hurt the GOP cause to save the House.
While House Republicans are licking their wounds, Senate Republicans will aggressively seek to confirm more of Trump’s judges, and perhaps another Supreme Court justice over the next two years. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats will need to regroup and again try to win back the majority in 2020.
It’s unclear when Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE will wrap up his investigation on alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. But with the election now over, most expect more news from the special counsel over the next several weeks or months. If House Democrats disagree with what Mueller finds, they will have the option of launching their own investigation next year.
A number of Democrats and liberals are itching to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, something Democratic leaders have sought to contain. Democrats at the beginning of next year will be able to do so, even though it might not be in their best political interests. It’s a decision that will weigh on Democratic leaders and Democrats maneuvering to take on Trump in 2020.
Possible White House staff shake-up
Will Trump shake things up again and bring new blood into the White House? Despite constant speculation that White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE has one foot out the door, Trump publicly committed to him staying on until 2020.
Others to watch include Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE, Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRepublicans release newly declassified intelligence document on FBI source Steele GOP’s Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst Graham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over MORE, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMilley discussed resigning from post after Trump photo-op: report Hundreds of West Point alumni call out Esper over military’s role in protests OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill MORE, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The ‘accidental director’ on the front line of the fight for election security MORE, Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Trump officials may pursue offshore drilling after election, report says | Energy regulators to delay projects pending appeals | EPA union calls for ‘moratorium’ on reopening plans Trump administration could pursue drilling near Florida coast post-election: report Trump to make it easier for Alaska hunters to kill wolf pups and bear cubs: report MORE and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Trump’s victories in the Senate will only make it easier for him to muscle through new nominees to replace officials such as Sessions. With a 51-49 majority, replacing Sessions might have been difficult. With a majority as large as 54 or 55 seats, it’s a lot easier.
There could be more than 30 major Democratic presidential candidates, with roughly a half-dozen senators expected to launch a bid for the nomination.
As is customary, likely 2020 candidates such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) have said their attention was on the midterms. Now they and many others have to make decisions on whether to get in, and more importantly, when to get in.
Lawmakers and the administration face a Dec. 7 funding deadline, and the chances of another government shutdown are significant. Trump wants a lot more funding for his border wall, which the left despises. Coming off a big win in the House, Democratic leaders in the lower chamber will be quite entrenched in their opposition to Trump’s wall initiative.
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