Donald Trump, who spent the past two years wielding the powers of the presidency unbound by party or political convention, is now constrained.
The Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives cripples his conservative agenda and opens the way for unfettered investigations into his scandal-plagued administration, his presidential campaign and his family’s business empire.
His personal tax returns may fall into the hands of his opponents. His re-election — always far from certain — may be even more dependent on the economy remaining at full steam.
Democrats picked up at least 26 GOP-held seats to gain control of the House. In the Senate, Republicans preserved their majority. Contests were still too close to call for Senate races in Florida, Montana and Arizona.
Trump ignored the House loss in a morning tweet, saying: “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!”
The president now faces a fundamental choice. He can reach for bipartisan deals in areas such as infrastructure and health care or stick to a well-worn strategy of stoking passions on immigration and other divisive issues to maintain enthusiasm with his supporters.
“The president’s agenda isn’t going to change, regardless of whose party is there,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday evening as results came in. “We’re still going to be an administration that’s focused on lowering taxes, growing our economy, creating jobs, defeating ISIS, remaking the judiciary, fixing the tremendous opioid crisis that we have. I think we can work with Democrats on that.”