The US’s November 2018 battle

Ahmad al-Farraj

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When a US president is elected, it’s important, for both him and his administration, that the majority of the Congress belongs to the same party.

If the majority of both Congress chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, belongs to the same party as the president’s, it will most likely help the latter pass his decisions and plans.

If this majority is only within one chamber, passing decisions and plans will not be as easy; however, the disaster is when the majority of both congress chambers belongs to the opposing party like what happened with former President Barack Obama during his second presidential term.

It’s not clear what will happen in November because in the US, a single development one day ahead of the elections may completely shuffle the formula in favor of one of the two major parties

Ahmad al-Farraj

Obama suffered a great deal from this, just like the case has been with former presidents who faced a similar scenario. Partisan bickering dominates the scene thus hindering the approval of plenty of decisions and plans since in the US institutional system, powers are distributed among the president, the Congress and the Supreme Court.

Trump’s Republican majority

Trump has been very lucky when he was elected president because the majority of both the Senate and the House of Representatives was Republican. Imagine how Trump’s situation would be if the majority of the Congress was Democrat, especially amid the current challenges and problems he’s confronting and the fierce war launched against him by the media.

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The majority of the Senate is Republican at the moment and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is very conservative, just like Trump. McConnell is considered a supporter of Trump and this has helped fulfill the appointment of Trump’s candidates to important posts, especially that of the Attorney General – a post held by Jeff Sessions.

This has also been the case with the House of Representatives whose Republican speaker is Paul Ryan. Ryan is a political fox who stands with Trump for purely partisan reasons. However, in a painful blow to Trump, Ryan announced his early resignation a few days ago, perhaps because he grew tired of the arguments and embarrassment which the Trump administration has caused for the Republicans in the Congress.

Democrats pushing for majority win

This relatively comfortable situation for Trump may not last because in November 2018, the midterm congressional elections to elect House of Representatives members (which happen every two years) will be held.

Elections will also be held at the Senate as 33 of the 100 seats in it will be contested (the Senate members are elected for a six-year-term). It’s not clear what will happen in November because in the US, a single development one day ahead of the elections may completely shuffle the formula in favor of one of the two major parties.

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If the Republicans continue to have the majority in both Congress chambers, then this will greatly ease everything for Trump. However, if the Democrats manage to gain the majority in both chambers, Trump will be in a difficult situation because he will face a fierce war during the two remaining years of his term as president. The Democrats do not hide their intentions and they’re working hard to harvest a majority.

Meanwhile Trump has been affirming that his loyal supporters who brought him to the White House will re-elect Republicans this coming November so the Republican Party continues to dominate until the end of his presidential term. We will follow up on this as the November battle has begun now.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Dr. Ahmad al-Farraj is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah daily. He holds a Masters degree in literature from the University of Indiana and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was the Dean of the Arabic Language Institute in King Saud University and a member of the university’s council. He tweets under @amhfarraj.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.