Resources for Teachers and Students
FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 12, 2018
Democracy in action: Voters change the political balance in Congress for two years
Share a quote from results coverage and tell how it makes you feel.
Summarize a key opinion from a post-election editorial or column.
Read about a newly passed state or local ballot proposal. Tell why it does or doesn't seem sensible.
Participation in our system of electing leaders was notably high last week and brought a change in Washington, D.C. Democrats won control of the House, starting in January. Republicans, who currently have majorities in both parts of Congress, keep that status in the Senate. The national midterm elections, which come halfway through Donald Trump's four-year term, drew record numbers of voters to the polls in what was considered a referendum on his presidency, in effect. "An unusually high turnout illustrated the intensity of the backlash against Mr. Trump," New York Times coverage says.
There was no sweeping rejection of Trump and his party, but the changed House balance opens the way for tougher oversight of the White House in 2019-20. Democratic representatives will have majorities on all committees, including the chairman or chairwoman. That lets the party run hearings, decide what bills reach floor votes and investigate the president's personal finances and potential ties to Russia. Committees can compel White House aides and others to testify and share documents. For his part, Trump says investigations by the House would undercut chances for bipartisan deals on trade, infrastructure and prescription drug costs. "If they do that, then it's . . . a warlike posture." One immediate change came a day after the election, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at the president’s request.
Voters elected one of the most diverse groups of politicians in American history, bringing in a wave of female and minority governors, senators and representatives. (See video below.) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old from New York City, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. In Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. In Massachusetts, Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley will be her state's first black woman in Congress – a distinction held in Connecticut by Rep.-elect Jahana Hayes. Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas become the first Native American women in Congress, while Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis are the first Muslim women going to Congress.
President says: "I'm really happy with the response to me as your president. The people of the country are very happy with the job I have done." – Nov. 7 news conference
Ex-congressman says: "This is the first time I have ever seen Democrats voting in the midterms motivated by anger." – Steve Israel of New York, a Democratic House member from 2001-17
Author says: "It is exhilarating and remarkable to see so many women succeed against long odds, and heartening to see so many take their place as firsts." – Jill Filipovic, writing in The New York Times
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