Blue wave signals call for change

Illustration by Adam Goodman.

Caitlin Barbieri

Opinions Editor

Democrats took the U.S. House of Representatives last night and, even though Republicans retained the U.S. Senate, the results revealed the country’s overwhelming discontent for the Trump administration.

For the first time since 2011, Democrats have control of the House and the power to block a Republican agenda.  

The Democratic House will pause current efforts to make cuts to Obamacare, Social Security and Medicare. All bills start in the House; after going through a series of committees and being voted on and amended multiple times, the bill heads to the Senate to undergo the same process. So, for any bill to become law — meaning passing through both houses of Congress to make it to the president — it would involve bipartisanship.

While many Americans might have breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night knowing the Republican agenda has been slightly derailed, opposing majorities in Congress will also create a gridlock.

One of the first challenges this Congress will face is coming up with a budget for the next fiscal year. In 2013, the House and Senate refused to compromise over the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 — legislation that guides the allocation of funding for the fiscal year — resulted in a government shutdown that lasted 16 days.  

The shutdown was outrageous and affected the lives of approximately 2 million Americans who either couldn’t go to work or were forced to work without knowing when they would be paid. Under Trump, political parties are more polarized than in 2013. So we can only hope we don’t have a repeat of the government shutdown.

However, this gridlock does not necessarily mean Republicans will not be able to accomplish anything. Remaining the Senate majority, Republicans will still be able to approve Trump’s appointments to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court of the U.S., if a seat opens. During Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and trials, the Senate ultimately voted to approve his nomination.

With Kavanaugh’s appointment, SCOTUS now leans conservative — and a huge concern for Democrats is losing another advocate. If a spot on the court became available, the Republican Senate could streamline the approval of a new justice to solidify the establishment of a strongly conservative Supreme Court.  

Not all hope is lost for Democrats in this gridlock either — at least the Democratic House can investigate the Trump administration more aggressively. Democrats in the House will now have the power to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify against Trump.

The “blue wave” made a crash that carried a message of disdain for the Trump administration and the Republican Party. Trump was elected because the American people wanted someone different — but it turns out he wasn’t “Mr. Right.” This Election Day, far-right-leaning candidates lost all over the country as the American people continue to search for a government they can believe in.

Whether you follow politics, politics follows you, and Tuesday’s midterms affected every single person in this country. As I covered the polls this Election Day and spoke to supporters of both parties, I found that —  overwhelmingly — the American people are tired of the hate that is pelted across party lines. And now as we prepare to face two years of gridlock, it is imperative to continue to question the government until you find a candidate who actually listens and cares.

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