Democrats retain control of Senate with victory in Nevada

Democrats will continue to control the Senate following the 2022 midterm elections, after Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Saturday was projected by CBS News to win a tight reelection race against Republican Adam Laxalt.

In a speech Sunday, Cortez Masto said when “national pundits said I couldn’t win, I knew Nevada would prove them wrong.”

Cortez Masto highlighted her support for first responders and labor unions, as well as her Latino heritage — her grandfather immigrated to Nevada from Mexico. And she said Nevada voters “rejected the far-right.”

“We rejected their conspiracies, their attacks on our workers, and their efforts to restrict our freedoms,” Cortez Masto said.

Her victory gives Democrats 50 seats in the 118th Congress. Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, should it be needed, gives them the majority, regardless of the outcome of the Georgia runoff election in December between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

“The election is a great win for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a briefing late Saturday night. “With the races now called in Arizona and Nevada, Democrats will have a majority in the Senate, and I will once again be majority leader.”

Republicans could still take control of the House, where a handful of races remain unresolved. However, control of the Senate means Democrats will have the ability to effectively kill any legislation emerging from a GOP-led House, enabling them to shield President Biden from politically risky legislation that a Senate led by Republicans might have brought to a vote. A Democratic Senate also makes it much easier for Mr. Biden to win approval for judicial nominations and appoint his desired candidates to positions across the government over the last two years of his term.

A pleased Mr. Biden — who is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, attending the summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — told reporters Sunday morning that Schumer has “got a majority again.”

“We’re focusing now on Georgia,” Mr. Biden said. “We feel good about where we are. And I know I’m a cockeyed optimist. I understand that from the beginning, but I’m not surprised by the turnout. I’m incredibly pleased by the turnout. And I think it’s a reflection of the quality of our candidates. And they’re all running on the same program. There wasn’t anybody who wasn’t running on what we did. They’re all staying, sticking with it. And so, I feel good. I’m looking forward to the next couple years.”

Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden, told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that control of the Senate is crucial for advancing the president’s agenda.

“Control of the Senate is hugely consequential both for judiciary nominations and appointments, the most diverse group of judicial nominations ever under the first two years of President Biden, but also for controlling the agenda in the U.S. Senate, and that means continued progress for the working families, middle class of this country,” she said.

Before Election Day, some Republicans had begun to believe Senate control was within reach, since Mr. Biden is suffering from underwater approval ratings amid high inflation and voters’ negative views of the economy in all the battleground states.

Democrats will keep control of the Senate, CNN projects

Democrats will keep their narrow Senate majority for the next two years, CNN projects, after victories in close contests in Nevada and Arizona.

The party defied the historical trend of midterm elections breaking against parties in power and overcame anxiety over high inflation, cementing its majority as voters rejected Republican candidates who had aligned themselves with former President Donald Trump and in many cases parroted his lies about widespread election fraud.

Retaining Senate control is a huge boost to President Joe Biden over the remaining two years of his first term in the White House, with one more Senate race outstanding that will determine the final balance of power in the chamber – and how much leverage the president’s party will ultimately have.

“I think it’s a reflection of the quality of our candidates,” Biden told reporters in Cambodia shortly after CNN and other news outlets projected Democrats would keep their Senate majority. “They’re all running on the same program. Wasn’t anybody who wasn’t running on what we did,” Biden went on.

Democrats will have the ability to confirm Biden’s judicial nominees – avoiding scenarios such as the one former President Barack Obama faced in 2016, when then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote on his Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. It also means that Senate Democrats can reject bills passed by the House and can set their own agenda.

The Senate win comes with control of the House – where Republicans were widely expected to win a majority – still up for grabs. Ballots are still being counted in key districts in some states, including California, Arizona and Oregon, with large shares of mail-in ballots. Even if Democrats don’t retain control of the House, they could leave the GOP with a small and unruly majority.

fter CNN projected Democratic victories in Arizona on Friday and Nevada on Saturday, Democrats now have 50 Senate seats to Republicans’ 49 seats. Although it no longer matters for control of the chamber, Georgia’s Senate runoff will determine just how big Democrats’ majority is.

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker are facing off on December 6 after neither candidate cleared the 50% threshold on Tuesday.

Biden said he was “looking forward to the next couple of years” with Democrats, and said he was now focused on the Senate runoff in Georgia, acknowledging it would be better to have 51 seats in the Senate.

“It’s just simply better, the bigger the number the better,” he said.

The Senate is currently evenly split, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote, but that’s meant that Democrats have no votes to spare.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Saturday night called the Democrats’ hold on the Senate a “vindication” of the party’s agenda and said it amounted to a rejection of “anti-Democratic, extremist, MAGA Republicans.”

“Oh and one other thing we did, which I cannot forget, we staunchly defended a woman’s right to choose,” Schumer said, referring to the battle over abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“Because the American people turned out to elect Democrats in the Senate, there’s now a firewall against a nationwide abortion ban threat that so many Republicans have talked about.”

Only one Senate seat has changed hands so far in the 2022 midterm elections: Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who campaigned as he recovered from a May stroke, defeated Republican Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Democrats’ defied political gravity to deliver a surprisingly strong midterm showing. CNN exit polls showed that 49% of voters who said they somewhat disapprove of Biden voted for Democrats while 45% backed Republicans; of the 38% of voters who said the condition of the economy is “not so good,” 62% voted Democratic compared to 35% for the GOP.

Republicans successfully defended seats in hard-fought races in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, while Democrats retained their seats in competitive contests in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Ultimately, the battle for Senate control came down to Arizona and Nevada – states with large shares of mail-in ballots and rules that can slow the processing of those ballots.

In Arizona, CNN projects that Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will defeat Republican Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who was endorsed by Trump and supported by tech mogul and emerging GOP megadonor Peter Thiel.

In Nevada, CNN projects that Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a former prosecutor and state attorney general, will defeat Republican Adam Laxalt, her successor in the attorney general’s office and the son and grandson of former senators.

Both Masters and Laxalt had at times embraced and parroted Trump’s lies about widespread 2020 election fraud.

Laxalt was a co-chairman of Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign in Nevada and played a leading role in legal efforts to reverse the results in that election, which he said was “rigged.” Cortez Masto had argued that the lies and election conspiracy theories embraced by Trump and allies like Laxalt led to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Masters released a campaign video as he was competing for the GOP nomination in which he said he believed Trump had won the 2020 election.

After winning the Senate primary, Masters briefly appeared to back away from some of that extreme rhetoric – scrubbing his website, for example, of language that included the false claim that the election was stolen. In a debate with Kelly, he also conceded that he had not seen evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election. But the Republican nominee seemed to reverse course after receiving a phone call from Trump urging him to “go stronger” on election denialism, a conversation that was captured in a Fox documentary.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

Republicans one seat away from control of House in US midterm elections

Republicans were on the brink of taking control of the US House of Representatives after a flurry of races were called for them on Monday.

The party had expected an overwhelming victory in the lower chamber of Congress due to high inflation and dissatisfaction with the Biden administration. But there was unexpectedly strong support for the Democrats, who have controlled the House since 2019.

Even if the Republicans do claim victory in the House, it is likely they will have the narrowest margin of the 21st century – rivalling 2001 when they had a nine-seat majority.

Nearly a week on from the midterm elections, three race calls in California and New York pushed the Republicans to 217 seats, one off from the 218 needed to command a majority.

On Monday evening Michelle Steel and Ken Calvert were both re-elected in California after close fought races against their Democratic rivals. Both races became more competitive this year thanks to the redistricting of congressional maps in California.

In New York, the Republicans also held on to a district that voted for the Democrats in the last two presidential elections.

There remain 14 races that are yet to be called, the majority of them in California.

House Republicans met behind closed doors late on Monday, as the fight for speaker began. The minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is looking to lock in support for the role but is set to face objections from the right of his party.

Party leaders are facing a backlash over the disappointing performance in the midterm elections. McCarthy had promised big wins, with the most diverse class ever of Republican recruits, but voters rejected many of the more extreme candidates and election deniers beholden to Trump.

If Republicans win the House, McCarthy will face a formal vote to become speaker when the new Congress convenes in January.

Donald Trump backs McCarthy for speaker, but even his support is no guarantee. The conservative Freedom Caucus who typically align with Trump are demanding concessions from McCarthy before giving him their backing. They have a long list of asks – from prime positions on House committees to guarantees they can have a role in shaping legislation.

Presidential Elections 2016

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. But my personal story is not so unique. That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it.

Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. I get it.

But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence.

More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. The men and women who gathered there could’ve heard many things. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq.

Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk.

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.

Senate confirms judicial nominees

The Senate unanimously confirmed four of 38 pending judicial nominations Thursday evening, the first of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to be approved since September.

The nominees—Catherine Eagles, Kimberly Mueller, John Gibney, and James Bredar—are the longest delayed district court nominees, who were each reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously. The nominations for Eagles, Mueller and Gibney were sent to the full Senate in May and Bredar was reported out of the committee in June.

The White House hailed the confirmations but said the Senate must continue to act.

“We’re pleased that these four nominees have been confirmed, but urge the Senate to take action on the 34 nominees who remain on the calendar – particularly the 19 who would fill judicial emergencies,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.

Regan Lachapelle, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the four confirmations Thursday are “just a start” to clearing the backlog during this session.

“We are still working through the list and are committed to confirming as many judges as we can,” said Lachapelle. “We’ll take them when we can get them.”

This week, Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have negotiated a deal that could potentially break the bottleneck of Obama’s “uncontroversial” federal court nominees during the dwindling lame duck legislative session. These included most of the nominees who had been reported out of the Judiciary Committee by unanimous votes before November elections.

Still, there are a handful of circuit court nominees — whose nominations are rarer and typically receive greater scrutiny — still waiting for votes on the Senate floor, though they had been nominated as far back as November 2009.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy praised the confirmations and called on more to be confirmed to address districts facing judicial emergencies, including vacancies and backlogged dockets, across the country.

“These confirmations are long overdue,” Leahy said. “For months, these nominations have languished before the Senate, without explanation and for no reason. I hope these are the first of many confirmations by the Senate before we adjourn.”

GOP lawmakers have flagged three other nominees, including California law professor Goodwin Liu, as too liberal and inexperienced to be parceled with the rest of the non-controversial judicial candidates set for Senate confirmation.

“We’re pleased that these four nominees have been confirmed, but urge the Senate to take action on the 34 nominees who remain on the calendar – particularly the 19 who would fill judicial emergencies.”

Cutting Risk by Disclosing Political Donations

In politics, it often pays to be ahead of the curve. That holds true for corporate governance too, even more so when politics enter the equation.

That is why a small number of the nation’s largest corporations have voluntarily agreed to report their share of trade association outlays that go to fund political activities. Together, these firms encompass a virtual who’s who in the microcosm of corporate America. In doing so, this corporate vanguard has yielded to pressure from shareholder activist groups that targeted them as prime candidates for greater accountability and transparency.

But this trend also reflects the altered political climate in Washington — a climate personified by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the liberal chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and an advocate of what he calls “shareholder democracy.”

“Some companies get it, some don’t,” said Bruce Freed, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit and non-partisan shareholder advocacy group that is playing a key behind-the-scenes role in orchestrating the recent run of voluntary disclosures. “The ones that don’t get it,” he added, “are headed for a (shareholder) proxy vote.”

Veterans’ advocates hit the Hill

A group advocating the rights of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are on the Hill this week to press lawmakers on issues ranging from disability care to high rates of unemployment.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the largest organization for veterans of the wars, will host a series of events as a part of their Storm the Hill campaign this week, culminating in Thursday’s release of their legislative agenda for 2010.

Top priorities include improving the claims processing system for disabled veterans, addressing the suicide epidemic among service members and improving the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care services for women.

This is the fifth annual trip for the group, which was founded in 2004. Starting Monday, the veterans will form teams named for the military alphabet — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. — and will meet with more than 100 lawmakers to discuss their issues.

The veterans were originally scheduled to meet with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, who died Monday.