US Congress: Another BattleBy Alessa Flores | Thu, 11/05/2020 - 16:45
While the eyes of the world are on the US presidential election, one third of the Upper House and one third of the Lower House are also at stake. Currently, the US Senate is controlled by a Republican majority, which holds 53 seats.
The US Senate, part of the legislative branch of the federal government, is made up of 100 senators (two from each state) elected for a six-year term. The Senate enacts legislation and has the power to impeach government officials and approve the president's appointments and treaties. Democrats have 48 seats at the moment and flipped two seats from Republicans, who also have 48 seats and flipped one seat as well. Only four states, Arizona, Georgia, Maine and North Carolina, remain to be defined.
If Biden were to defeat Trump, he might be unable to pass legislation on key issues such as healthcare, immigration and climate change unless Democrats regain a majority in the Senate. A concern for democrats is that losing the Senate majority would limit their political agenda and stop them from addressing issues they consider crucial to reviving the economy after COVID-19. If Trump is re-elected, democrats will need three more states, plus Arizona and Colorado, to gain a majority. If Biden wins, the democrats will only need two more, explains The Guardian.
Key Policies on the Line
The battle for the US Senate could shape the northern country’s policymaking in many key issues. Biden, for example, has indicated that within his first 100 days as president, he would reverse Trump’s policy that separate parents from children at the US border. He also has spoken about ending detrimental asylum policies and the mismanagement of the asylum system, which fuels violence and chaos at the border, among other initiatives. Biden claims that the “immigration system is under a lot of stress as a result of Trump's policies,” and he has stated that "[Trump’s] obsession with building a wall does nothing to address security challenges while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.”
During his campaign, Trump emphasized that his work on immigration focused on the enforcement of immigration laws to protect US communities and jobs and enforce US Border Security. Trump highlighted his goals to eliminate legal loopholes that enabled illegal immigration, end chain migration and the visa lottery program. He also withdrew the US from the Global Compact on Migration, winded down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and secured funding for approximately 445 miles of border wall, 10,000 new ICE agents and 5,000 additional border patrol agents.
Another contested topic is energy and climate change. Biden’s plan seeks to support the US to achieve a 100 percent clean energy economy and net zero emissions by 2050. He also proposed to make investments in infrastructure to reduce the impact of climate change through green water, transport and energy infrastructure. Biden also aims to introduce legislation that limits fossil-fuel companies and others that harm the environment and poison the air, land and water.
President Trump, on the other hand, signed an executive order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. He has also increased exports of energy resources to finance coal and fossil fuel energy projects and leveraged infrastructure projects to grow oil and gas production in the US. Moreover, Trump rescinded former President Barack Obama’s costly Clean Power Plan and proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule as a replacement, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases, empowering states, promoting energy independence and facilitating economic growth and job creation.