WASHINGTON, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — Republicans have claimed control of the Senate, winning open seats in Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, and West Virginia, and defeating Democratic incumbents in Colorado, Arkansas, and North Carolina; in total they have added at least 13 seats to their majority in the House of Representatives.
Furthermore, the balance in the Senate is 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats, with two races, in Arkansas and Louisiana, yet to be decided. In the House of Representatives, it is 243 Republicans to 179 Democrats. This gives the Republicans control of the important Military Affairs, Intelligence, and Foreign Relations Committees in the Senate, and expands their majorities on the equivalent committees in the House.
Among the losing Democrats was Colorado Senator Mark Udall, who was a leading opponent of the National Security Agency’s effort to expand and codify their ability to spy on Americans and international governments, businesses, politicians, and ordinary citizens. His loss will likely mean an expansion of those efforts.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Udall was also fighting for the release of a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program during the Bush Presidency. Unless the report is released in the next two months, Republican leadership will likely bury or heavily redact the report, absolving the American advocates of torture and the foreign governments who provided assistance and cover.
Republican leadership on Senate Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees will mean advocates of proxy wars in Ukraine and Georgia will be able to set the agenda for hearings and legislation.
Two other areas where Republicans in the Senate may be able to work with House Republicans and President Obama include the passage of free trade agreements and oil pipelines.
On trade, a Republican majority will mean additional support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These deals will look to consolidate America’s economic bloc and provide legal avenues for American corporations to ignore, overrule, and weaken labor regulations, environmental protections, and tax laws implemented in Europe’s social democracies.
The Republican Senate’s support for the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian crude oil to US refineries in Texas (as well as drilling in national parks and along America’s coasts) is based on a stated desire to reduce imports of Russian crude oil and increase American oil exports, which have doubled since 2008, when President Obama took office.
The most dangerous benefactor of a Republican Congress is America’s military-industrial complex. America’s defense budget continues to outpace every other nation, and Republicans campaigned against the modest cuts imposed by the 2013 sequester. More defense spending means more wars (and more wars means more defense spending), so Republican leaders could expand the war in Iraq and Syria and potentially look for larger targets.
The 2014 elections were also the most expensive mid-term elections, thanks to the decision by the US Supreme Court to dismantle campaign finance rules in the 2010 Citizens United case. American coal and oil oligarchs spent upwards of $300 million to elect Republican candidates who will be deferential to their causes.
The growing role of US oligarchs in undermining the already fragile system of US representative democracy opens the door to increasing military and political adventurism on the part of the US military-intelligence community and their backers in the military-industrial corporations who are reaping huge profits from America’s wars. Those profits turn into unlimited campaign spending, drowning out the voices of the anti-war population.
The elections also represented a reconciliation between Republican party leaders and their grassroots “Tea Party.” Republican candidates espoused a tea party agenda but no longer felt the need to identify with the group. When the “Republican” brand was unpopular after the Bush presidency, another party was needed, but when that group became unpopular after election failures in 2012, the Republican party fully embraced an agenda based on being anti-Obama and anti-Democrat. It is unlikely that they will play a major role until the newly elected Republicans become unpopular again.
The one area where President Obama has the most leeway in his last two years to act without Congress is also the area where he agrees most with Republican leadership: foreign policy. In addition to appointing two Republicans as his Secretaries of Defense, President Obama has used military force against Yemen, Libya, Syria and has continued action in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia, and has also pledged $1 billion to bolster American military presence in Eastern Europe.
Now that election day has passed, Democrats and Republicans are already counting down and ramping up for 2016: Democrats in hope of retaking Congress and Republicans trying to put one of their own into the White House.
Daniel Zubov (United States)
November 7, 2014
Center for International Journalism and Research, "Rossiya Segodnya"