The Republicans are poised to gain control of the Senate. They scored several unlikely wins in gubernatorial elections, specifically in Massachusetts and Maryland. This may be due to the generally negative sentiment towards the president’s policies or the lack of Democratic advertisement. Nevertheless, the Republican Party is becoming ambitious about future actions and advocacy, notably its intention to fight Environmental Protection Agency regulations and approve a keystone pipeline.
The next majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has already promised to fight the regulations which could curb carbon pollution by shutting down power plants in his home state, Kentucky. In the meantime, he and other Republicans are increasing demands that Obama approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline, if created, would transport petroleum from Canadian oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Although the Republicans cannot repeal the EPA regulations at this moment (they do not have the votes), their new majority in the Senate increases their leverage in pushing approval for the pipeline. Any type of repeal would undermine the president’s climate change agenda. When asked about future action, Obama said that he would “let that process play out” and “gather up the facts.”
It is needless to say that the GOP’s control over both houses (which hasn’t happened since 2006) will change the political dynamics in the White House. Its control over Obama in his last two years of office is already apparent, and one can expect major transformations in Washington.