On November 3, Americans will not only choose whether or not to extend Donald Trump’s lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They will also elect their elected representatives to Congress with all the seats in the House of Representatives at stake and one third of the senators. If the Democrats are almost guaranteed to retain a majority in the lower house, suspense remains in the upper house, held by a Republican majority (53 out of 100).
While the idea of seeing the Senate tipping over seemed like a distant dream for Democrats just a few months ago, that assumption has become feasible over time. For them, the setup of these 2020 elections is ideal on paper. Of the 35 seats at stake, Democrats only occupy 12. Republicans are most often forced to be on the defensive.
A handful of elections are of particular interest. Elected in Maine for 24 years, Susan Collins, one of the more moderate Republicans in the Senate, may well say goodbye to Congress. His constituents criticize him above all for having voted for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite the accusations of sexual assault to which he was the subject.
All eyes on South Carolina
The most iconic ballot will undoubtedly be played in South Carolina, conservative stronghold and stronghold of Lindsey Graham. Elected continuously since 2002, Graham, one of the most famous senators, finds himself in trouble against Jaime Harrison, an African-American Democrat. Quite a symbol in this state, the first to secede in 1860.
“Lindsey Graham was a candidate for the Republican primaries in 2016 and he didn’t have a hard enough word to denounce candidate Trump. After he was nominated by the party and was elected president, he became one of the most loyal of the administration’s stalwarts. He played the Trumpist card to the full, ”explains François Vergniolle de Chantal, professor at the University of Paris and author of“ The Impossible Imperial Presidency. Legislative control in the United States ”(CNRS Editions).
Beyond this seat, it is in part a trial in “trumpization” of the Republican Party which is played in secret. “There are quite a few Republicans in South Carolina who don’t relate to the choices Graham made. And within the Democratic Party, seeing Lindsey Graham on the mat would be a source of great satisfaction, ”adds Nicole Bacharan, political scientist specializing in the United States and author with Dominique Simonnet of“ First Ladies ”(Tempus).
The pass of two in Arizona?
Other lands historically anchored on the side of the “Grand Old Party” are also showing signs of weakness. This is the case in Georgia, the only state where two seats are renewed and which could see the victory of a Democrat. In Arizona, the Democrats could even win with the former astronaut Mark Kelly the second seat of this key state where the result of the presidential election could also be played out. “In 2018, they had already won it with Kyrsten Sinema, an openly bisexual and atheist woman, which is not exactly the profile one expects in a republican state”, recalls Lauric Henneton, lecturer at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin and specialist in the United States.
Even if Joe Biden were to be elected President of the United States, not having the Senate on his side would necessarily be a source of annoyance. “At the end of the Obama years, the House and the Senate were Republicans and Joe Biden as vice-president and president of the Senate, was in the front row, underlines Lauric Henneton, We would remain in a form of cohabitation in Congress, placed under the sign of obstruction. The separation of powers means that the president cannot do everything. “
A “supermajority” out of reach
Without this majority, the president thus finds himself in great difficulty in choosing a large number of federal officials, members of the cabinet and judges, whether for the federal courts or for the Supreme Court. The example of Amy Coney Barrett, who takes over from Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the highest legal body, is there to remind us.
On the other hand, a possible shift of the Senate in favor of the Democrats would not completely change the situation on the legislative level, explains François Vergniolle de Chantal, professor at the University of Paris. “The US Senate has a unique procedure in the world, the“ filibuster ”. This is what James Stewart does in “Mr. Smith in the Senate”. In this film from the end of the 1930s, we show that the “filibuster” is an exceptional event. It is now practiced routinely. Any senator from the minority who has objected to a piece of legislation is either going to engage in a “filibuster”, talking for hours, or warn that he is going to be a filibuster. To have a real majority and put an end to this obstruction, it takes 60 votes to have a real majority, which is very difficult to obtain. “
In the event of a blockage, the president can always use decrees, which Donald Trump or Barack Obama did not hesitate to do. But the lifespan of these “executive orders” is often a function of the time spent by their signatory in the Oval Office.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr