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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 17:37, November 09, 2006
U.S. elections reshapes political landscape in Washington
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Sweeping victories in Tuesday's legislative elections by U.S. Democrats would bring the party back to enjoying a majority in Congress in 12 years when the 110th Congress convenes in early January.

With the media projection that Democrat Jim Webb ousted Republican Senator George Allen in Virginia Wednesday evening, the last of six Republican incumbents, Democrats won a narrow victory in Senate, that is to say, they won total control of Congress.

Democratic Party won 229 seats in the House of Representatives and 51 seats in the Senate. Democrats have gained six governorships from Republicans, bringing the number of Democratic governors to 28, the largest number since 1994.

With Democrats taking control of Congress, the Republican-controlled White House is expected to face more pressure from the Congress, and the Bush administration would have to adjust its legislative agenda in general, and particularly its policy in Iraq, observers said.

The adjustment has began. Within hours of Democrats' victory, President Bush announced resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defender of Iraq war.

DEMOCRATS EXPECTED TO EXERCISE MORE OVERSIGHT ON GOVERNMENT

With Democrats taking control of Congress, everything would become different for President Bush, who had had a cooperative Republican-controlled Congress for the past six years.

House Democrats are expected to conduct a series of hearings, to investigate such issues as Bush's prewar policy on Iraq, the domestic wiretapping program, and the energy policy engineered by the group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, analysts said.

It is also certain that Democrats would take up legislations on minimum wage, energy and immigration reform. And regarding Iraq, under pressure from the Democrats, the White House has to now adjust its policy to a great extent, not merely tactics. The measures on tax-cuts might not be extended by Congress either, according to analysts.

With the midterm elections over, campaigns for the 2008 presidential elections would start very soon, and Bush's proposed reform of Social Security is less likely expected to get passed, they noted.

BUSH EXPRESSES RECONCILIATION WITH DEMOCRATS

One day after the elections, Bush expressed great willingness to work with Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Bush made telephone calls to Democratic leaders early on Wednesday to congratulate them on their victories in Tuesday's congressional elections and said that he looked forward to working with them. He invited House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is in line to become the first woman speaker of the House in U.S. history, and Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democratic leader of the House, for lunch at the White House on Thursday.

"She's coming to the Oval Office later this week. I'm going to sit down and talk with her," Bush said of Pelosi.

"I believe on a lot of issues we can find common ground. There's a significant difference between common ground and abandon principles. She's not going to abandon her principles and I'm not going to abandon mine. I do believe we have common ground to move forward on," Bush said.

Also on Wednesday, Bush ousted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has been under intense pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to resign over his handling of the Iraq war, only a week after telling reporters that he would be staying on till the end of the present administration.

Bush's new rhetoric is in sharp contrast with what he had said before the elections, while campaigning for Republican candidates, he had accused Democrats of being weak on national security, and said a Democratic win would make the country less safe. The president's attitude reflected the hard reality in Washington, analysts said.

If Bush hoped to accomplish anything significant in the last two years of his second term, he would have to think of a legislative and political strategy, to get support from a Democratic-controlled House.

Democrats said that they would work with the White House and Republicans.

"The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said early on Wednesday at the Democratic election headquarters in Washington.

"We will do so working together with the administration and the Republicans in Congress in partnership, not in partisanship," she said.

SCANDALS, IRAQ WAR ARE MAJOR REASONS FOR REPUBLICAN DEFEAT

The elections on Tuesday to a large extent was a national referendum on Bush's presidency and the war in Iraq, news reports said.

Republicans once viewed the Iraq war as a political asset in the 2006 campaign, but with escalating violence in Iraq and rising U.S. military casualties, the war has turned into a liability for Republican candidates, whenever their Democratic opponents challenge the Bush administration's Iraq polices.

Over 2,800 U.S. soldiers have been killed in the war, which is in its fourth year now and costs hundreds of billions of dollars.

Exit polls showed that 60 percent of voters leaving the polls said they opposed the Iraq war, and 40 percent said their vote was a vote against Bush. And a significant number of voters said corruption was a crucial issue in their decision in a year in which Republicans have struggled with scandal after scandal among their ranks.

With control of Congress, Democrats would be for the first time positioned to challenge Bush's conduct of the war while promoting their own idea of a phased withdrawal of the roughly 140,000 U.S. troops that are fighting in Iraq, analysts said.

Source: Xinhua


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