WORLD-Rejection of Obama
Republicans win both chambers of Congress
WASHINGTON –– The chairman of the Republican National Committee has called resounding Republican mid-term victories a “direct rejection of the Obama agenda”.
“[Americans] want nothing to do with the policies of Barack Obama,” Reince Priebus told reporters today.
Republicans made historic gains, winning control of both chambers of Congress, because their policies resonated with the electorate, he said.
Obama will respond later to what was a terrible result for Democrats.
“This was all about a direct rejection of the Obama agenda,” said Priebus.
The president said very clearly that his policies were on the ballot and voters were very clear in return, he added.
Earlier today, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to “work together” with Obama on issues where they could agree.
Working within a two-party political system did not mean “we have to live in perpetual conflict”, he added.
As the new Senate majority leader when the new Congress sits in January, McConnell will control the chamber’s legislative agenda and floor proceedings.
He has been a fierce critic of the president’s health care overhaul and once vowed to block Obama at every turn. But in the glow of victory, he hinted at compromise.
“Tonight we begin another [race] . . . the race to turn this country around, to restore hope and confidence and optimism to this commonwealth and across this nation,” McConnell said yesterday evening.
“Too many in Washington have forgotten that their job is to serve,” he added. “We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree.”
Throughout the campaign, Republicans focused on voter dissatisfaction with Obama, a Democrat, describing the vote as a referendum on his presidency.
As the first results came in late yesterday, it became clear they had made the six gains they needed to win control of the Senate.
The Republicans won in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. The party now controls 52 seats, and is tipped to win at least one more as votes are counted in other states.
Their victory came on the back of a wave of discontent expressed by voters on the campaign trial –– unhappy with an economic recovery they fail to feel the benefits of, and frustrated by political gridlock in Congress, which has already reached historic levels.
But echoing his successor’s sentiment of unity, current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid congratulated McConnell in a short statement.
“The message from voters is clear –– they want us to work together,” said Reid of Nevada, whose role in the soon to be Democratic minority remains uncertain.
“I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”
The Republicans are also projected to increase their majority –– by at least ten seats –– in the House of Representatives to levels not seen since before World War II.
They also made gains among the 36 governorships up for re-election.
The Republicans will now have the power to complicate, if not block completely, Obama’s agenda in the last two years of his tenure in the White House.
Control of the Senate will also enable the Republicans to stymie his ability to name new federal judges, cabinet members and senior government officials.
In the governor’s races, Republican incumbents survived some tough re-election battles and scored some surprising victories, cementing their success across several levels of government.
Voters approved ballot measures legalizing cannabis in Oregon and Washington DC.
And three states –– South Dakota, Arkansas and Nebraska –– approved increases in the minimum wage.