The Republican Party will keep control of the United States Congress after nationwide elections Tuesday.
The party’s candidates captured at least 51 of the U.S. Senate’s 100 seats, while the Democratic Party controls at least 47. The Republican majority could rise to 53 when results from two additional races are confirmed.
The Senate race in the northeastern state of New Hampshire was still too close to call early Wednesday. In the race, incumbent Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, is running against Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat.
The state of Louisiana will hold a special runoff election in December to fill another Senate seat. Voters will choose between Republican John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.
The new Congress will take office in January.
The Republican majority in the House is likely to be smaller than its current majority, but not by as much as recent opinion surveys had predicted.
Having a majority in Congress is important because the party in power leads committees, sets the legislative agenda and can order investigations.
With the election of Republican Donald Trump as president, political experts are wondering about relations between the Trump White House and Congress.
The current Congress has blocked many policies of Democratic President Barack Obama. This has resulted in a lack of action on many issues in both the House and Senate. This legislative inaction is often described as political “gridlock.”
Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that American voters have grown tired of continuing gridlock in Washington.
One of the new Senate's first items of business will be filling an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. But Republicans refused to hold hearings or vote on the nomination. They said that since the nomination came with less than a year remaining in Obama’s term, the next president should choose Scalia’s replacement.
Being an incumbent from either party helped most of the returning Senate candidates win. Among the winners were Florida’s Marco Rubio, who decided to seek reelection after ending his campaign for the presidency.
Arizona Republican John McCain won his sixth term in the Senate at age 80, in what was likely his last campaign.
Another incumbent, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, was easily re-elected. There had been reports that he would have been a candidate for majority leader if the Democrats had taken control of the Senate.
One exception to the incumbent winners was Republican Mark Kirk in Illinois. He lost to two-term Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat, by more than 700,000 votes.
Duckworth served in the U.S. military in Iraq, where she lost both her legs when a helicopter was shot down. She says she will try to make issues of importance to military veterans a priority in the Senate.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on information from VOANews.com, Reuters and the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
incumbent – n. person who has already held an office or position
runoff – adj. an additional vote or race that is held to decide a winner
agenda – n. list of topics to be discussed
gridlock – n. situation in which no progress can be made
priority – n. something more important than other things that needs to be dealt with first