The Republicans won in seven states that the Democrats represent in the US Senate, having thus gained control of all committees in both houses of the Congress. Now it will be up to Republicans to determine daily legislative agenda. How will the White House try to build relationships with the Republican majority? Pravda.Ru asked expert opinion from political scientist, Director General of the Russian Council for International Affairs, Andrei Kortunov.
“What will Obama do now? Will his law legalizing illegal migrants fail?”
“As a rule, the president tries to put his foreign policy on the support of the two parties, to reach a consensus on major issues, at least. If such a consensus exists, the change in leadership of certain committees of the Senate or the House of Representatives does not affect the passage of bills. In this particular case, this agenda of US foreign policy can be divided into two parts: there are issues, on which consensus has been reached, and there are other issues, on serious differences remain.
If we take the policies of the United States in respect of Russia and the Ukrainian crisis, there are no discrepancies. It is hard to assume that the Republicans will change something fundamentally in their attitude to the events in Ukraine. As for the new immigration legislation – this is a field for serious party debate. I think that it will be very difficult now for Obama to preserve the law on the reforms of immigration policy in its original form.
“During the last 18 months, the Republicans have been attacking basic provisions of the law. Ultimately, it will be adopted, but most likely, with significant changes. A radical reform of immigration laws, as it was two or three years ago, is no longer possible. The Republicans can fit the law into their ideas of how the reform should be conducted.
“As for foreign policy, the struggle will unfold primarily on the Iranian issue. The Republicans traditionally take a tougher stance on Iran. I admit that differences will emerge regarding the development of relations with China. Perhaps the Republicans will traditionally take a more pro-Israeli position regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“The White House may face difficulties both when passing certain legislative acts, and in respect of possible appointments. The Republicans may, for example, put obstacles in appointing ambassadors, or other high-ranking officials. It is unlikely, though, that the struggle will become acute.
“Are there any discrepancies between Obama and the Republicans as far as the Ukrainian crisis is concerned? For example, can they solve the question of arms supplies to Ukraine?”
“I do not think there are fundamental differences on Ukraine. Indeed, there are Republican senators, who support bigger support to Kiev, including through the supplies of so-called deadly weapons that can be used directly in the so-called anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine. Even if such permission is granted, it does not mean that the Obama administration may agree to accept and use it.
“Therefore, the evolution of the US-led policy in relation to the Ukrainian crisis will depend on the events in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s stance on the crisis, as well as actions of the self-proclaimed republics, will play an important role here. That is, it depends more on external factors, rather than on internal struggle in the US Congress.
“What does this election defeat mean for the Democrats? Does it mean defeat in the presidential election in 2016?”
“Defeat is always bad for anyone. For Democrats, it means less powers in domestic policy, budget allocation, social and economic reforms in the country. Noteworthy, the Democrats now have an additional incentive for consolidation to get ready for the presidential election in two years and try to maintain control over the White House.
“Given that the Republicans have moved to the right, the Democrats have a chance to capture the political center in the next presidential election. And then, most likely, the Democratic Party will be able to win the presidential election. This is more important than winning midterm congressional elections.”