The U.S. midterm elections are TOMORROW.Â What does this mean?
It all has to do with 2 ‘chambers’ of the Congress of the United States. Each one plays a huge role in passing legislation. You see, the President weilds a lot of power in the US but is hamstrung in certain important areas by these two chambers. He cannot ratify treaties or pass certain legislations with consent of the Senate (and to some extent the House) and certain other powers of the prez are limited by the House. Here is some verbage from Wikipedia explaining the 2 chambers in detail:
The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the Congress of the United States, the other being the House of Representatives. In the Senate, each state is equally represented by two members; as a result, the total membership of the body is currently 100. Senators serve for six-year terms that are staggered so elections are held for approximately one-third of the seats (a “class”) every second year.The Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and serves as its presiding officer, but is not a Senator and does not vote except to break ties. The Vice President rarely acts as President of the Senate unless casting a tie-breaking vote or during ceremonial occasions, so the duty of presiding usually falls to the President Pro Tempore, customarily the most senior senator of the majority party. Most often, the President Pro Tempore will designate a member from his party to serve as presiding officer for the day.
The Senate is regarded as a more deliberative body than the House of Representatives; the Senate is smaller and its members serve longer terms, allowing for a more collegial and less partisan atmosphere that is somewhat more insulated from public opinion than the House. The Senate has several exclusive powers enumerated in Article One of the Constitution not granted to the House; most significantly, the President cannot ratify treaties or make important appointments without the advice and consent of the Senate.
The United States House of Representatives (or simply the House) is one of the two chambers of the United States Congress, the other being the Senate. Each state is represented in the House proportionally to its population, and is entitled to at least one Representative. The total number of Representatives is currently fixed at 435 by the Reapportionment Act of 1929, though Congress has the authority to change that number. Each Representative serves for a two-year term and may be re-elected an unlimited number of times. The presiding officer of the House is known as the Speaker, and is elected by the members. The present House delegations by state are shown in the article List of U.S. states by population.
The bicameral Congress arose from the desire of the Founders to create a “house of the people” that would represent public opinion, balanced by a more deliberative Senate that would represent the governments of the individual states, and would be less susceptible to variations of mass sentiment. The House is often considered the “lower house,” and the Senate as the “upper house,” although the United States Constitution does not use such language. The Constitution provides that the approval of both houses is necessary for the passage of legislation.
The House is generally considered a more partisan chamber than the Senate. Many of the Founding Fathers intended the Senate (whose members were originally chosen by the state legislatures) to be a check on the popularly elected House, just as the House was to be a check on the Senate. The “advice and consent” powers (such as the power to approve treaties) were therefore granted to the Senate alone. The House was granted its own exclusive powers: the power to initiate revenue bills, impeach officials, and elect the President in electoral college deadlocks. The Senate, however, can propose amendments to spending bills, try impeached officials, and choose the Vice President in an electoral college deadlock. The Senate and its members generally have greater prestige than the House since Senators serve longer terms (six years) in a smaller body and (in most cases) represent larger constituencies than Representatives.
So, if you haven’t discerned this yet, it becomes very convenient to get your way as president if the Senate and the House have a majority that belong to your party. I.e. since Bush is a Republican, if the Senate and House are Republican then he can have his way with American policy. That is the way it is today. “Bend over USA – I OWN YOU” bumper stickers have been seen on many of Bushie’s vehicles.
I don’t want to get into the nuances of this environment and don’t want to debate with others who think that there are enough checks and measures in place to still hold things in control even when both chambers and the president are from the same party. It is what it is and the past 6 years have demonstrated to me that this environment has spun a lot of things out of control in the US both at home and worldwide.
The midterm elections are elections that take place every 2 years where the entire House is elected and some of the Senate (approx 1/3rd of the 100 members) is elected. Due to differing tenures depending on the state the representative is from, etc. the number of reps elected is different depending on whether the election falls on the same year as the President is elected or if the election is taking place during the mid-term of the President’s tenure.
The importance is that the mid-terms can shake up the power in the House and Senate which is why it should be of interest to everyone how this pans out. With a Democrat majority in one or both houses the person Hugo Chavez calls the devil (and is quoted as saying the following when addressing the U.N.: “The devil came here yesterday. It still smells of sulphur today”) will be much more limited in what he can do before he is ousted from power. And with Bush’s legacy coming to a close I think there is still a lot of hocus-pocus he’s going to try and get through legislation before he’s done.