This Tuesday at 12 noon, the time has come: the new and re-elected US Senators and MPs will be sworn into office in the US Capitol in Washington. And you don’t have to consult a crystal ball to predict that the new rift will be visible real quick after that.
The new Congress that US President Joe Biden will have to deal with in the remaining two years of his term in office is a deeply divided one. The losses suffered by the Democrats in the midterm elections in November 2022 were significantly lower than expected. They defended their majority in the Senate.
But in the future, the Republicans will have the say in the House of Representatives. It will be exciting to see what they can achieve – or depending on your point of view: cause – with their narrow majority of four votes.
While Biden and his Democrats were able to celebrate successes right to the end last year and implement important projects such as a federal law to protect same-sex marriage, it is now becoming much more difficult to get majorities together for new laws or reforms. Especially with the next big election already casting its shadow: the 2024 presidential election.
Trump supporters have grown stronger
Right from the start, it could become clear how destructive parts of the new Republican faction in the House of Representatives are. There are many supporters of former President Donald Trump here who have no interest in allowing Biden’s Democrats even a single parliamentary success.
The fact that Trump has announced that he will run again in 2024 does not make the starting position any easier. Especially since there are various lawsuits against him. Republicans have also vowed revenge after House Democrats just made his tax returns public.
Voices needs Kevin McCarthy for the choice of the “speaker”
California Congressman Kevin McCarthy wants to be elected Speaker of the Chamber of Congress to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi. It is unclear whether he will receive the necessary 218 votes. He does not have to hope for votes from the Democrats.
The far-right wing of his group has made far-reaching demands for committee posts and other concessions. Among other things, they wanted to introduce that in future an individual member of parliament could request that the head of parliament be voted out of office – a proposal that would entail considerable potential for blackmail. So far, it takes more than half of the group.
As a compromise, McCarthy offered that five dissatisfied MPs could make such a motion. But even this was not enough for the right-wing Republicans. Some even report that they do not support the 57-year-old even if he should fulfill all their demands.
If McCarthy fails, elections continue until a candidate receives the necessary votes. There is speculation as to whether a more moderate Republican might have a better chance if he can convince conservative Democrats.
Either way, the House of Representatives can only pass legislation if the Democratic-led Senate agrees. But many Republicans seem to be adjusting primarily to blockade politics – and to various investigative committees, for example against Interior Minister Alejandro Mayorkas because of the situation on the border with Mexico or against President’s son Hunter Biden.
The Republican minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, is considered a tough power politician, but also much more constructive. So it’s no coincidence that a Biden, fresh from his Christmas vacation, is traveling to Kentucky on Wednesday, where he will appear with Senator McConnell to talk about important infrastructure projects.
The President’s New Year’s message is clear: In 2023, too, there are good opportunities for non-partisan action. The only problem is: the contrast between the pictures from Kentucky and Washington could hardly be greater.
For the Democrats, on the other hand, the leadership issues have been clarified for the time being, at least superficially. Hakeem Jeffries leads the House of Representatives as Pelosi’s successor, and Chuck Schumer must continue to hold a slim majority in the Senate. Here, too, conflicts between the various wings of the party are likely to arise – but in a much more moderate form.