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What does the US Congress do and how many seats are up for grabs in the Midterm Elections?

Congress is one of three coequal branches the US federal government with powers for the two Legislative chambers laid out in Article I of the Constitution.

What to know about Congress before the 2022 Midterms

Every two years Americans get the chance to determine the makeup of the US Congress, the body that writes and passes the laws of the land and controls the nation’s purse. While only a certain number of seats in the upper chamber are up for grabs each cycle due to senators serving 6-year terms, every congress man and woman in the lower chamber must work to get reelected, kind of.

US midterm elections live online: Election Day | Latest news

Thanks to gerrymandering, only 14 percent of Congressional Districts of the 435 are competitive after the most recent redrawing of the lines in each state with the results of the 2020 Census, a three-point decrease from before. However, in a closely divided House of Representatives control could go to either party with 30 seats on either side of the political spectrum that plumped by less than eight percentage points for their preferred presidential choice in 2020.

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What does the US Congress do?

The US Constitution created three coequal branches of government the Executive, Judicial and Legislative. The last one is the purview of Congress with which it is given the power of the purse. As well it is the only branch that can make new laws or change existing ones.

As part of the US system of “Checks and Balances” the president can veto any law passed by Congress but the legislating body can override the veto with a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. Likewise, if a law is challenged in court the Judiciary could find that it violates the US Constitution and overturn the legislation.

Another feature of the Checks and Balances resides in the Legislative branch’s authority to confirm or reject presidential appointments. Additionally, Congress performs the duty of government oversight, mainly of the Executive branch, with its vast powers to investigate. However, through the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits are conducted and reports generated on every aspect of government operations to ensure that Americans’ tax dollars are spent effectively and efficiently.

Congress is the only part of the government that can declare war.

How many seats are up for grabs in the Midterm Elections?

Every two years the makeup of Congress is determined through elections. While votes are held for all 435 representatives in the House, only around a third of Senate seats are on the ballot during each biannual general federal election.

The upper chamber currently consists of 100 senators meaning that control goes to whichever party has more than 50 seats. In the event of an evenly divided upper chamber, the party that controls the White House will have the majority with the Vice President serving as the tie-breaking vote.

Under the current two-party majority system, in order to control the lower chamber, a party must count on 218 seats controlled by their members or independent politicians that caucus with said party. This determines who the Speaker of the House is, the person who will decide which legislation gets brought to the floor for a vote.

As mentioned before there are only around 60 congressional districts that are competitive after the most recent redrawing of the lines in states across The Union. Those seats are evenly split between leaning Democratic and leaning Republican from the 2020 presidential results. However, upsets can occur even with the best laid plans to ensure a district remains clearly under the sway of one party or the other as did in 1994.

That year, Republicans won control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years in what became known as the Republican Revolution. While historically the party of a first-term president usually loses seats in Congress, Michael Moore has been predicting that what has been forecast as a “Red Wave” in 2022 will actually be the opposite, claiming there will be a “Blue Tsunami.”


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