WASHINGTON (Updated 10:30 p.m.) — The Connecticut delegation to Congress remained solidly Democratic following Tuesday’s mid-term elections as the party appeared poised to wrest control of the House away from Republicans.
Democrats needed to gain 23 seats to gain the majority in the House and early results showed them on their way to securing control of the chamber as had been projected in recent polling.
Connecticut returned incumbent Reps. John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes to the House along with newcomer Democrat Jahana Hayes in the 5th District, replacing Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who did not seek re-election.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy also won re-election but appears he will remain in the minority as Republicans look to retain a slim majority in the Senate.
“Across the board, Connecticut is sending a delegation to Washington fully committed to our values. And we do so at a moment of unprecedented challenge and opportunity,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro in written remarks.
Early results from contested House races broke in favor of the Democrats with key pickups in Virginia, New Jersey and Florida — leading Fox News Decision Desk to project at 9:40 p.m. that Democrats will take control of the House for the first time in eight years.
The U.S. Senate is currently controlled by Republicans, who hold a 51-49 advantage. While a slim margin, the 35 seats up for election in 2018 favor Republicans to hold onto their majority. Democrats lost Indiana and failed to pick up a gain in Tennessee and were on the brink of losing Florida — reducing the chances for taking the majority even though Democrat Beto O’Rourke was running ahead in Texas.
If the projections hold, House Democrats will set the agenda when the next Congress is seated in January — a major blow to President Donald Trump. The results almost certainly mean that the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed and replaced with a more market-driven system. It also is unlikely that Trump will secure additional tax cuts — as he suggested in the waning days of the mid-term election.
Instead, House Democrats will likely begin aggressive oversight of the Trump administration. Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, could play a role in supporting Mueller’s probe. And, look for additional investigations of Trump’s cabinet members.
Connecticut Democrats will also hold more power at the committee level.
Larson will likely head the Ways and Means subcommittee that oversees Social Security. He’s made it clear that he does not support reducing benefits to retirees.
On the Appropriations Committee, DeLauro will likely be in charge of the subcommittee funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Resources and Education. The position will make it easier for her to seek blunt cuts to safety net programs that Republicans have supported in the past.
DeLauro said that as chair her goals include: stopping “the sabotage of the ACA,” blocking Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from privatizing public education or arming teachers, and working to pass paid family and medical leave.
Courtney will likely take the helm of the Armed Services subcommittee responsible for major defense programs of importance to Connecticut — giving him a little more clout when seeking additional work for Electric Boat in particular.
Voters shouldn’t expect that much will actually change in Congress when it comes to partisan gridlock. With the majority, House Democrats can pass any number of progressive bills only to see them die in the Senate — either by being ignored by a Republican majority or filibustered should Democrats end up with a slim majority.