The U.S. Capitol (Photo: James Cullum)

Post-Midterm Report: Expect Gridlock, Emboldened Democrats To Subpoena, Open Investigations

The 2018 midterm shakeup in the halls of Congress will affect all levels of government, including homeland security, according to a 2018 Election Analysis report released today. The report, compiled by Cornerstone Government Affairs, concluded that the Trump administration will be challenged by Democrats who will “control the House calendar, conduct investigations, subpoena executive branch officials and schedule hearings.”

“While we continue to digest exit polling data, it seems that the political polarization of America continues,” Geoff Gonella, president and managing director of Cornerstone Public Affairs, wrote in the report. “Are today’s candidates pushing the electorate further to the political edge, or are they simply reflecting that very electorate? Whatever your view, it seems likely that this polarization will make the collaboration and compromise required to solve our nation’s challenges even more difficult to achieve in the 116th Congress.” 

Funding for the southern border wall in the fiscal year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill will hang over the upcoming Congress, as a record number of migrant families arrived at the Mexican border this year.

“Pressure from the party’s left wing to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump will mount immediately, while moderates will warn against overreaching,” reads the report. 

The Results 

An estimated 113 million voters cast ballots this cycle — up from 83 million in 2014 — making it the largest midterm turnout in the U.S. since the 1960s. Women voters made up 52 percent of the votes cast, as the election produced what will be a record-high number of women in Congress. In all, House Democrats will hold at least 223 seats versus the 197 held by Republicans, with 15 races still undecided. The Senate remains in Republican hands, with the GOP majority increasing by at least two seats with three races outstanding.

“One of the first priorities of the lame-duck session of Congress will be to try to pass a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) budget for the remainder of the fiscal year,” said the report. “The battle over border wall funding could have a significant impact on the other parts of the DHS budget including cybersecurity, for everything from critical infrastructure protection to training to cyber threat detection and mitigation.” 

There will be changes in committee assignments, with the Homeland Security, Judiciary, Commerce and Oversight and Government Reform committees among those set for major changes in membership and leadership. House Democrats have scheduled Nov. 28 and 29 to vote on assignments, and the vote for the Speaker of the House will be held in January. Current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will try to remain leader, and is being challenged by House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). 

The Senate, in the days ahead, will likely continue to confirm the president’s judicial and executive branch confirmations, while the 2020 return of sequestration will affect defense and non-defense spending levels.

Whether the election was a referendum on President Trump is a matter of speculation, but the report notes that in 36 of the last 39 midterm elections, the party in the White House lost an average of 25 House seats in Congress.

According to the report: “If the 2018 election was a referendum on Trump, it is unclear if his politics, his style (see Twitter), his policies or a combination thereof was the driving factor. In the days leading up to the election, he made clear that our military forces — which are mobilizing to the southern border — are the first line of defense against the migrant caravan heading through Mexico to the United States. While this mobilization galvanized the right, it also complicated some Republicans’ efforts to tout a message of economic prosperity in more moderate suburban battlegrounds where many of the House elections were decided.”

Multimedia journalist James Cullum is Managing Editor of Homeland Security Today's Federal Pages. He has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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