The Hill’s Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority
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Voters gave Democrats a majority in the House last night, shaking up the balance of power in Washington and giving Democrats oversight and subpoena authority to investigate President Trump and his administration for 2019 and 2020.
It was a very good night, however, for Republicans in the Senate, where the GOP is poised to add to its 51-49 majority, once the final outcomes in a handful of races are confirmed. Republican senators vowed to continue the president’s work of confirming conservatives across the judiciary.
The Hill: Blue wave runs into Trump’s red wall.
The Hill: America’s urban-rural divide deepens.
Democrats are on pace to flip at least 30 House seats, picking up more than the 23 they needed to reclaim their first majority in the chamber since 2010. Not all races have been decided, but it was clear that Tuesday was a particularly bad night for GOP House centrists, who were washed out in large numbers.
It was not the “blue wave” that Democrats had hoped for, but after some nerve-wracking early returns, liberals celebrated the fact that their party had returned to winning again.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to reclaim the Speaker’s gavel. She will lead a chamber that is expected to aggressively investigate the administration. Speaking at Democratic headquarters in Washington shortly before midnight, Pelosi vowed to act as a check on the president’s power.
“Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about restoring the Constitution and checks and balances to the Trump administration. It’s about stopping the GOP and Mitch McConnell’s assault on Medicare and Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act… but more than anything, it’s about what a new Democratic majority will mean for the lives of hard working Americans.” — Pelosi
Pelosi also said the Democrats would “strive for bipartisanship.” Trump called Pelosi to congratulate her on the Democrats’ victory and said he hoped they could work together.
“We don’t need an election to know that we are a divided nation, and now we have a divided Washington. As a country and a government we must find a way to come together to find common ground and build on the successes of this Congress.” – Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
There was no single, clear narrative that emerged from the returns, which means that both parties seized on messages they favored from region to region, from the suburbs to cities, and from state capitals to Washington. But by voting for divided government, voters sent a message to Washington that they want to see lawmakers work across the aisle.
Kevin Benson, a 38-year-old graphic designer from Westerville, Ohio, said that as a registered Republican, he decided to vote for Democratic candidates on Tuesday to serve as “a check” on Trump. “I’m frustrated with the way he’s acting. Plus just Republicans in general. … I’m just kind of dissatisfied across the board with them,” he told The Associated Press.
It was a long night of ballot counting, with many surprises and firsts.
A Democrat was elected governor of Kansas, defeating the Trump-backed nominee. Republicans dashed liberal hopes in Florida, Georgia and Texas, where Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams and Rep. Beto O’Rourke had risen to national prominence. The House will have its first Native American woman representative and Colorado made history by electing the first openly gay man as governor.
The Hill: Winners and losers from the midterm elections.
The Hill: Five takeaways from a divisive midterms election.
Stan Collender: Divided government points to budget wars, higher deficits.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Forget the blue wave, behold the purple puddle.
Albert Hunt: Congratulations Democrats, now watch your step.
Here’s a rundown of where things stand this morning:
LEADING THE DAY
HOUSE: If the president thought dealing with the national media and his Republican critics in Congress was tough, he’s about to experience another level of opposition in the Democratic-controlled House.
Democrats will start by using their investigative clout to go after Trump’s tax returns. They’ll dig into every aspect of Trump’s business empire. The House Intelligence Committee, which will likely be led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif), will reopen its investigation into Russia’s election interference and allegations of collusion. Many of the witnesses that testified before Congress behind closed doors will be dragged back for public hearings. Trump’s family and inner circle will almost certainly be a focus.
There is a contingent of Democrats who are eager to impeach the president. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will likely chair the House Financial Services Committee. She will have subpoena power to get information from the president and the executive branch.
The Hill: What to watch for now.
Many of the GOP moderates who clashed with Trump will be gone and replaced by Democrats, who will be more hostile toward the president. Centrist stalwarts such as Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) were all voted out of office.
> A handful of vulnerable GOP House members hung on, keeping Democrats from posting larger margins. Reps. Ross Spano (R-Fla.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.) won races that Democrats had circled as potential pickup opportunities.
> Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley (D) won her House race unopposed, becoming Massachusetts’ first black woman in Congress.
> Greg Pence (R-Ind.) won the House seat previously held by his brother, Vice President Mike Pence.
> Democrat Kendra Horn came out of nowhere in central Oklahoma to defeat incumbent Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) The seat was once held by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Russell had never been elected with less than 60 percent of the vote. The Cook Political Report had rated the contest “likely Republican.”
> Democrat Abigail Spanberger defeated Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who shocked the political world in 2014 by upsetting then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a primary.
> Ilhan Omar in Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan became the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
> Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who stunned Washington by defeating Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary earlier this year, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the age of 29. Democrat Abby Finkenauer, who defeated Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), is also 29.
> Texas elected its first Latina woman to the House, Veronica Escobar. Democrat Sharice Davids from Kansas became the first Native American woman elected to Congress. Republican Rep. Kristi Noem became the first woman to be elected governor of South Dakota. A record number of women have been elected to the House (The Hill).
The Guardian: The candidates who made history in the 2018 midterms.
USA Today: Women and minorities make history on Election Night.
SENATE: Republicans are ensured at least their 51-seat majority in the Senate, thanks to wins in North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri, and with three races unresolved early Wednesday, Republicans hoped to expand their dominance with possible victories in Florida, Arizona and Montana (The Associated Press).
The Washington Post: 2018 Senate election results.
The upshot thus far enlarges the power and importance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will work more closely with Trump next year while navigating around a Democratic-controlled House.
McConnell phoned the president Tuesday night to thank him for his help (The Hill).
The GOP will appear more in lockstep with the president next year as the party eyes the 2020 presidential race and focuses on trying to damage the Democratic brand, as embodied by left-leaning House leaders and committee chairs.
Trump’s positions on federal spending, health care, immigration, the judiciary and trade will be reflected in a more conservative Senate, and the upper chamber will serve as a protective force field as some Democrats advocate Trump’s impeachment (The Washington Post).
GOP Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, who took pains to separate himself from some Trump policies in a key swing state with a large Latino population, appeared to have narrowly defeated Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) Tuesday night but Nelson did not immediately concede the race (The Hill).
Outcomes also were incomplete early Wednesday in Montana, where Trump worked overtime to try to defeat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who was challenged by Republican Matt Rosendale. In Arizona, the race between GOP Rep. Martha McSally and Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema was too close to call this morning.
Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer defeated Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, a significant pickup in Trump country (The Hill).
Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, viewed for months as a particularly vulnerable Democrat in a red state, lost to Republican Mike Braun (The Hill), despite efforts by VIP Democratic surrogates, including former President Obama, to give Donnelly a late-in-the-contest boost.
In Missouri, a state Trump won in 2016 by 20 points, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill lost to Republican challenger Josh Hawley (The Hill).
And Republicans prevailed in the South and the West: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) defeated Democrat Phil Bredesen, a popular former governor, for the seat being vacated by retiring Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker (The Hill).
Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the progressive challenger backed by national celebrities and awash in campaign cash, lost after a dog fight in Texas against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who turned to Trump for help in the final weeks of the race (The Hill). Despite his loss, O’Rourke remains a Democratic star with a future in showcase national politics, including presidential politics (Reuters).
There were Democratic Senate incumbents who held onto their seats Tuesday night: West Virginia voters sent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) back to Washington for another term (The Hill), despite the president’s frequent appearances in the state to try to defeat him.
Ohio’s liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) also prevailed against a GOP challenger, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio).
And Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) handily defeated GOP challenger John James.
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, the only GOP incumbent seeking re-election in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016, became the sole Republican senator to be defeated — by Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democratic challenger often skewered by Trump using a pejorative nickname (The Hill).
The map this year helped Senate Republicans, who had to defend just nine seats compared with Democrats, who along with their two independent allies in the Senate defended 26 seats.
A notable and familiar face next year will be one of Trump’s most outspoken former critics, now an erstwhile ally. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a former GOP presidential nominee in 2012, heads to the Senate to represent Utah.
The Hill: Trump delivers for McConnell in the Senate.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
➔ STATE WATCH: Two liberal hopes fell short in their bids for governor on Tuesday in contests where racial tensions boiled over.
Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee, lost to former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) in Florida. And in Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the state House of Representatives.
Republican Mike DeWine will succeed Gov. John Kasich (R) in Ohio, defeating Democrat Richard Cordray.
Still, Democrats earned several key victories.
In Wisconsin, Democrat Tony Evers defeated Gov. Scott Walker, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
In Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly defeated Republican Kris Kobach, who was backed by Trump and served on the president’s controversial voter fraud panel.
And in Colorado, Rep. Jared Polis (D) will become the first openly gay governor.
Democrat J.B. Pritzker coasted past incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in Illinois.
More from the states … Florida passed an amendment that will allow the approximately 1.5 million people with felony records in the state to vote (The Orlando Sentinel) … Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana (KCTV5) … Alabama and West Virginia passed stricter abortion initiatives (CNN).
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Infrastructure needs, high drug prices can unite the next Congress, by former Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2SSxCQU
Trump’s tough love policy for China, by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2AQHUu1
WHERE AND WHEN
The House and Senate will return to Washington to resume work on Tuesday.
The president has no public schedule.
The Federal Reserve begins a two-day policy meeting that will end Thursday with a statement (MarketWatch).
Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim gives the keynote address at the Mexico Federal Telecommunications Institute forum on “Competition in the Digital Environment” in Mexico City at 10 a.m. CT.
> Airplane safety: Boeing is close to issuing a safety warning on its 737 Max, the type of plane that crashed last week off the coast of Indonesia, warning that erroneous readings from a flight-monitoring system can cause the planes to aggressively dive (Bloomberg).
> Ivanka Trump: China gave the president’s daughter initial approval for 16 new trademarks for a wide range of products, including “voting machines.” The approval occurs as President Trump continues wrestling with China over trade, and three months after Ivanka Trump said her personal clothing brand would shut down (CNBC).
> Science: Could a giant laser beam on Earth attract the attention of an extraterrestrial civilization and bring them to our planet for a visit? Some scientists think this is a good idea (Fox News).
> France: Six suspects were held Tuesday over a possible “violent action” plot aimed at French President Emmanuel Macron, anti-terror police reported (The Guardian).
> Yemen: The Saudi-led coalition armed and supported by the United States has redoubled attacks in Yemen as a dire humanitarian crisis poses risks of famine, the United Nations warns (The New York Times).
And finally … Before ballots were in and counted last night, politicians turned to polling for insights, while some D.C. denizens looked heavenward.
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