Republicans came out victorious on election night (8 November), winning control of the White House and both houses in Congress. Republican majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives will boost President-elect Donald Trump's chances of enacting campaign proposals.
"The stalemate and deadlock that's gone on with a Democratic president and a Republican Congress probably won't exist next year when Trump is president," federal budget analyst and political observer Stan Collender told Voice of America. "There's a variety of things from tax reform to major tax cuts to infrastructure spending that will probably get through [Congress] relatively quickly."
Senate Republicans have secured 51 seats, while their counterparts in the House won at least 239 seats. According to Norman Eisen of the Brookings Institution, Republicans were able to achieve this in part thanks to Trump's base. Democrats believed they had a real chance of taking the Senate and hoped to have a fighting chance to win the House. They were sorely disappointed.
"He [Trump] bailed the Senate out. The thinking was that Democrats were likely to take control of the Senate. Republicans reversed that. The Trump base that turned out carried the day in the Senate," Eisen said.
Republicans were unable to win 60 seats in the Senate that would prevent Democrats from using filibusters in the chamber to limit conservative policies, NBC News reported. However, that will not stop them from pushing ahead with conservative proposals.
Congressional Republicans have suggested they will use a budget process called reconciliation that allows bills in the Senate only to require 51 votes to eliminate or replace the Affordable Care Act, as well as other bills and tax cuts. NPR noted that Trump will be able to use rule-making and smaller legislative changes to the healthcare law to weaken it if he cannot get the Senate to kill it.
A 2013 rule set by Senate Democrats will also allow nominations of federal judges and executive posts to be approved with 51 votes instead of 60, NBC News reported. This will allow the president-elect to choose whomever he wants for his cabinet and circuit and appeals courts.
With Republicans controlling Congress, Trump will also be able to nominate a conservative to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The 2013 rule did not apply to Supreme Court justices but Republicans could change the rules to benefit themselves. A conservative majority in the high court could then in turn affect abortion rights and other liberal social issues.
NBC News noted that the lack of power by Democrats will also limit their ability to start investigations or hearings to question Trump's decisions.
However, the relationship between Congressional Republicans and the newly elected president will not be as harmonious as can be expected. "If you heard Trump's speech last night, he reached out to other Republicans as much as Democrats to say, 'I want to work with you,'" Collender told VOA. "But Trump is a pretty vindictive person, and that could get ugly pretty quickly."