Voters handed control of the Senate to Republicans for the first time in eight years on Tuesday, putting the GOP in charge of Congress for the remainder of President Obama’s term.
Republicans swept to victory in a string of contests across the country, retaining every one of the GOP-held seats up for grabs and picking up more than the six seats needed to take control of the Senate. Republicans enjoyed a banner night after mounting campaigns from coast to coast that, almost without exception, sought to cast their opponents as rubber stamps for the unpopular president. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who fended off a Democratic challenge in Kentucky, is now poised to ascend to majority leader next year.
Republicans also are projected to retain control of the House — and gain at least 12 seats, expanding their majority beyond their post-World War II record of 246 seats set in 1946.
The landscape means Republicans will have new powers to challenge Obama’s agenda in the final two years of his term, able to launch investigations and hold hearings from both chambers; hold up key appointments; and pass GOP-favored legislation, if only to force the president to employ his veto pen. The division of power also could yield areas of agreement, on areas ranging from immigration to energy — though the Affordable Care Act and efforts to undermine it could continue to sour talks on other issues.
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