US voters are gearing up to hit the polls once more and have their voice heard in the 2022 midterm elections. The votes will take place on Tuesday 8 November across the country, with voters deciding on new congressmen and congresswomen, as well as some having the opportunity to vote on Senate positions.
The midterms are held in the midway point of the presidential term. Therefore, it gives the public the opportunity to have their verdict on Biden’s policy-making so far.
Many prominent issues will have influenced the public’s view of the president’s premiership. The House is looking likely to swing to a Republican majority.
This could have far-reaching and significant effects on domestic issues and international policy. President Biden would be limited in his ability to push through legislation and confirm Democrat judicial nominees who would back his policymaking.
What issues could this outcome affect - and how could it impact them? NationalWorld spoke to Dr Colin Provost, Associate Professor in Public Policy at UCL, about what a Republican win in the midterms could mean for the US.
How could a Republican midterm win affect US domestic issues?
Roe V Wade
The world has watched as major political change has taken grip in the US over the past few years. One of the biggest changes - and shocks - was the overruling of the landmark abortion ruling, Roe V Wade.
The ruling, which had been introduced in 1973, made abortion legal at a national level. This overturning of this essentially gave the power of abortion laws back into the hands of individual states, which more conservative, Republican states could take advantage of to strongly restrict abortion access.
As part of the midterms campaign, Biden had pledged that he was seeking to codify Roe V Wade. This means that the President would be looking to arrange the Roe V Wade ruling in 1973 into solid law, with a bill passed through congress.
But is this campaign promise enough for some voters? Dr Provost explains: “Access to abortion is very important or for public health purposes, but the polling and then the way things are going seems to show that the average American voter cares much more about inflation and pocket book issues than they do about some of these other issues - they might not get quite as close to home.”
So if Biden does indeed lose the House and Senate to the Republicans, does it spell the end for the fight for Roe V Wade? Dr Provost explains that the Democrats did not have enough time between the overturning and the midterm elections to push through legislation in a Democrat-controlled Congress.
“If Democrats manage to hold on to both houses of Congress which seems incredibly unlikely, then maybe passing legislation at the federal level will rise higher on their agenda. That seems like something that was going to be very difficult to do in the narrow time frame between the time that Roe vs. Wade was overturned and the midterm elections.
“The other side of that coin is that, if Republicans win, even if they write new legislation regarding abortion, it’s almost certainly going to be vetoed by President Biden. So if nothing gets accomplished at the federal level, that means that the debate remains in the hands of states - it remains pretty much subject to state law.”
A stalemate between the two parties on the controversial issue would most likely happen, with Biden unprepared to make any movement on working with Republicans on the issue as to not “sell out” to the Democratic voting base. Therefore, the issue would remain in state hands, with more Republican and conservative locations attempting to introduce the abortion restrictions.
January 6 investigation
Currently ongoing is the US Select House Committee January 6 Committee. The committee, which is made up of both Democratic and Republican congressmen and congresswomen, is investigating the January 6 Capitol riots, which saw Trump supporters descend on the building.
The group was formed in July 2021 and has so far interviewed more than 1,000 people. They have also subpoenaed significant figures such as former President Trump, and close associates of his.
However, the creation of committees is at the discretion of the House of Representatives. So if the Republicans take the house what does it mean for the future of the investigation?
“The Investigative Committee would almost certainly go away and any further investigation of the events of January 6 would go away. But there’s still plenty of other investigations - criminal and civil - into President Trump. Those are at state and local level, those will continue,” explained Dr Provost.
Instead, Republicans may seek to replace the January 6 committee with their own investigation. This includes an investigation into the dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
However, there is speculation that the Republicans could go even further. Dr Provost said: “Because of the election denier movement, many GOP [Republican] representatives don’t see President Biden as a legitimate president.
He continued: “There’s speculation that the House of Representatives might vote to impeach President Biden, so that will probably be a new landmark in terms of American political polarisation. But in terms of Biden being in office, it’s probably not going to really have an effect ultimately, because it’s very difficult to see how the Republicans in the Senate could muster the 67 votes to then remove him from office even if the Republican Republicans in the House didn’t vote to impeach him.”
How could a Republican win in the House affect foreign policy?
War in Ukraine
There have been some concerns that if the Republicans win the House, there may be a reduction in the amount of military and monetary aid given to Ukraine in the war with Russia. This could in turn weaken Ukraine’s position in the conflict and have a massive affect on the outcome of the war.
However, Dr Provost does not believe that this will actually happen. He explains that Biden actually has fairly strong bipartisan consensus for foreign policy, specifically his aid for Ukraine and sanctions for Russia. This is despite small pockets of the Republican Party disagreeing with US support of Ukraine.
“Foreign Affairs is where we’ve probably seen more bipartisan consensus. We don’t have a lot of bipartisan consensus in the US, but there are a few areas and one area has been over for the most part, to the war on Ukraine. So President Biden has, not complete, but close to complete unilateral authority when it comes to sanctioning the Russian government.
“Biden does need congressional approval for aid so anything involving monetary aid and military aid, those things need the approval of Congress. Now there’s pretty much still a bipartisan consensus around that approach, but there is a small number of Republican legislators who have objected to the amount of money being given to Ukraine and that could be for different reasons.”
These reasons are varied and include domestic economic issues. However, while a small number of Republican representatives may disagree with the aid, Dr Provost explains that some may feel “at odds” with restricting aid.
“Republicans traditionally don’t want as much aid, especially when it comes to humanitarian aid, but usually they favour robust foreign policy. So they’re a little bit maybe a little bit at odds there. They can’t quite figure it out.
There are also smaller and more extreme GOP representatives which may even side with Russia on this issue. Dr Provost said: “Whether or not this wing of the Republican Party becomes big enough to really have an effect on the aid that’s been given to Ukraine, it doesn’t seem likely but you can’t say for sure. I think that the aid going to the Ukraine war probably will not change dramatically.”