Experts: Few Agreements Likely from Divided US Congress

    17 November 2022

    The 118th United States Congress will be closely divided between the Republican and Democratic Parties. The Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in the November 8 elections. Democrats added to their majority in the Senate.

    Final results of several races remain in question. But, those results will not change the political representation by much. The majorities in both houses will be small.

    Some political experts think a closely divided Congress will not be able to agree on many issues. The U.S. Congress has been closely divided for several years.

     The sun rises at the U.S. Capitol on the morning of U.S. midterm elections on November 8, 2022. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
    The sun rises at the U.S. Capitol on the morning of U.S. midterm elections on November 8, 2022. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

    VOA spoke to David King, a politics and public policy expert at Harvard University. When asked what the American public should expect from the new Congress, King answered: "More of the same."

    King said most of the power in Congress is controlled by a small number of people at the top.

    "The power in Congress will be held in the hands of a few leaders. Most of the members of Congress will stick very close to their party, because neither one can afford to lose a couple of key votes," he said.

    King says Congress is likely to pass only budget-related bills that pay for the most basic government operations. He added that members of Congress will already be acting in consideration of possible results of the 2024 presidential election.

    However, some experts are more hopeful. G. William Hoagland is a vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He told VOA that congressional leaders might find issues on which they can work together.

    He said, "I think it's possible that there could still be some successful legislative achievement."

    Hoagland noted immigration as one such issue. Republicans want increased border security. Democrats want a path to legal standing for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. It might be possible, Hoagland said, for new legislation aimed at reaching both goals.

    The newly-divided Congress might make it more difficult for President Biden to get his policies made into law. Biden may narrow his aims as a result, Hoagland suggested. He said the president could center his efforts on supporting the operation of major acts already passed. These include the Inflation Reduction Act, with its huge investments in the fight against climate change, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

    Democrats had controlled both houses of Congress before November's elections.

    King, of Harvard University, said that Biden might look more to international issues if progress at home becomes difficult.

    Leadership positions

    In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to keep his position. On Wednesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fought off a challenge by Senator Rick Scott and was reelected to his position.

    Leadership of the House is less certain. Republican Kevin McCarthy won his party's nomination to be Speaker. However, without support of more conservative Republicans, he might not be able to win the position.

    Current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has announced that she will not seek any leadership position when the new congress takes office in January.

    Investigations expected

    All the experts VOA spoke with agreed that new and strong investigations into the Biden administration and into the president's family will take place in the House. Republicans have promised to look into Biden administration actions at the southern border and into the business dealings of the president's son, Hunter Biden.

    I'm Caty Weaver.

    Rob Garver wrote this story for VOA News. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    afford to –v. to allow or permit something to happen because doing so will not bring negative results to oneself or others

    a couple –n. two in number, or sometimes an integer close to two in number

    key –adj. very important or crucial, essential

    achievement –n. completion of an important or difficult goal or task