In the first major election since Donald Trump became president, the Democrats have regained their majority in the House of Representatives – allowing them to block much of the President’s agenda.
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated US midterm elections in recent memory, the Democrats were on course to gain the 23 seats they needed to capture the Republican-held House.
As a clear picture of the results began to emerge, Trump attempted to put a positive spin on the night, tweeting that the results were, in fact, a “tremendous success”.
But while his Republican party entrenched their control of the US Senate, making it easier for Trump to continue appointing judges, the result is far more devastating to Trump than he is letting on.
UPDATE: Trump later tweeted about his “Big Victory”. He’s still wrong.
Legendary CBS journalist, Dan Rather, spelled it out: “Democratic control of the House will change the course of history.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very big deal.”
So What Does It All Actually Mean?
Put simply, a majority in the House of Representatives means Democrats now have the numbers to vote down President Trump’s legislative agenda.
The very fact Republicans lost control of House is a blow to Trump as midterm elections are generally seen as a vote of confidence in the President’s agenda to date.
For Trump, there’s no hiding the fact that a wave of dissatisfaction fuelled people’s votes.
The Big One – Impeachment
Democrats have already said they will push for Trump’s impeachment if they were to take back control of the House.
If evidence surfaces that he obstructed justice or that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia, then the process would likely proceed.
But there is a common misunderstanding about what the term actually means – impeachment itself is only the filing of the relevant charges.
The process begins with the House Judiciary Committee reviewing charges against an official, and determining if there are grounds for impeachment.
The full House of Representatives votes on one or more articles of impeachment, and if at least one gets a simple majority vote, the official is indicted and considered impeached.
This is more likely now Democrats have a House majority, but they would almost certainly be thwarted by the next stage – a trial in the Senate presided over by the Supreme Court Chief Justice, with the Senate acting as jury.
Republicans last night strengthened their majority in the Senate and a two-thirds majority is required to remove a president from office, meaning this would only happen if Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation uncovered something incredibly damning, or...
The Tax Returns
Control of the House brings with it the ability to launch committees and investigations and one of the things Democrats have been desperate to get their hands on is Trump’s tax returns.
The President has repeatedly refused to disclose his personal financial dealings. He says it’s because they’re being audited, but critics say he’s actually trying to hide shady financial dealings, possibly with prominent Russians.
On Monday Trump shrugged off the possibility, saying: “I don’t care. They can do whatever they want, and I can do whatever I want.”
Trump has had a rough time trying to get anything of substance done in the White House and has repeatedly struggled to pass legislation – even with Republican control of the House and the Senate.
Democrats will now force him to scale back his legislative ambitions even further, possibly dooming his plans to fund a border wall with Mexico, a major plank of his presidency and one his die-hard supporters have become very attached to.
Russia, North Korea And Iran
Democrats are likely to use their new majority to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward Trump’s foreign policy, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
The President has been notoriously reluctant to criticise Vladimir Putin even as more and more evidence emerges the Russian President interfered in the 2016 election.
Representative Eliot Engel, the Democrat in line to head the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said they may also push for congressional authorisation for the use of military force in places like Iraq and Syria.
But on some hot-button areas, like China and Iran, he acknowledged there was little they could do to change the status quo.
Now that they have taken control of the 435-member House of Representatives for the first time since 2011, Democrats will decide what legislation is considered in the chamber and have a bigger role in setting spending policy and writing legislation.
“I don’t think we should challenge something just because it’s put forth by the administration, but I do think we have an obligation to review policies and do oversight,” Engel told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The Stock Market
During the most turbulent times of Trump’s presidency he has so far always had one thing to tout – a booming Stock Market, despite largely taking credit for the what many people say was the crest of an Obama wave.
This has been a risky strategy – taking credit when the markets go up is easy, but Trump won’t want to do the same if they start to tank.
Stock returns have been fuelled the past year by Trump’s corporate tax cuts, which have pumped up profits.
Yet any hope of further fiscal stimulus in the form of more tax cuts faded with the results of Tuesday’s congressional elections.