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After big gains, Republicans vow to challenge Obama's agenda

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-11-03

Exuberant Republicans vowed to overturn key reforms championed by Obama, a day after Democrats sustained looses in US elections. At a press conference Wednesday, Obama acknowledged that the results showed that people were deeply frustrated.

Jubilant Republicans on Wednesday vowed to slash the size of the US government and challenge President Barack Obama's agenda, a day after Democrats suffered a major setback in the US midterm elections.

In Tuesday’s crucial vote, Republicans reversed the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and made important gains in the Senate, where President Barack Obama’s party just barely held on to its lead.

"It's pretty clear the American people want a smaller, less costly, more accountable government here in Washington, D.C.", said leading Republican John Boehner, who is expected to take the reins as Speaker of the House from Democrat Nancy Pelosi when the new Congress begins work in January.

Boehner also vowed to repeal landmark health care and Wall Street reforms pushed into law by the Obama administration.

The predicted Republican gains in Congress will likely bring about legislative gridlock. Most, if not all Republicans, had campaigned heavily on the promise to fight the passage of legislation favoured by President Obama. Although Obama was able to pass comprehensive health and finance sector reforms, major legislation on income-tax cuts, energy and immigration policy is still pending.

But Republicans would have trouble advancing legislation past a Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama's power of veto. Therefore, despite Republican aspirations, the reality is that they will find it very difficult to repeal legislation.

Tea Party boost

Republicans took control of the House by picking up at least 60 seats, leaving them with a decisive majority. The Democrats managed to maintain a slim lead in the Senate with 51 seats to the Republicans' 46.

As opinion polls and analysts predicted in the run-up to the vote, a Republican tide boosted by the rise of the conservative Tea Party was the major trend of this elections
Florida Republican Marco Rubio and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul became the first Tea Party-backed candidates to win Senate seats, signalling a political future for the anti-establishment movement that has been the big story of the midterms.

Republican candidates also won Senate races in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and further rubbed salt into the wound by taking Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois.

Republicans also made net gains at the state level, picking up eight governor seats previously held by Democrats. In New Mexico, outspoken district attorney Susana Martinez, also a devout fan of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, became the first female Hispanic governor in the country. In South Carolina Republican candidate Nikki Haley became the country’s first Indian-American governor.

The Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives back in 2006.

But not all Tea Party stars were giving victory speeches. As expected in Delaware, Republican Christine O’Donnell lost the Senate match-up to Democrat Christopher Coons.

Senate wins by incumbent Democrats Barbara Boxer in California, Ron Wyden in Oregon and Harry Reid in Nevada, brought a huge sigh of relief to their party as it struggled to preserve its majority in the upper chamber. Democrats Michael Bennett in Colorado and Patty Murray in Washington were also clinging to slim leads in their Senate races as votes were still being counted.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives were contested on Tuesday, and around one-third of the 100 Senate seats. Voters nationwide also voted for state legislation and officials.

In a sign of how this election gripped the American public’s imagination, several local US media organisations reported better-than-expected turnout for the vote.

Date created : 2010-11-03


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