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Democrats retake the majority in the House after modest gains across the country

Donald Trump has never faced oversight before. He and his businesses better get ready for two years of scrutiny.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 11:  Maxine Waters (L) and Nancy Pelosi attend the LA Pride ResistMarch on June 11, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.  (Credit: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 11: Maxine Waters (L) and Nancy Pelosi attend the LA Pride ResistMarch on June 11, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Credit: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

Shortly after 11pm EST, networks called a slew of House races on the west coast as well as several outstanding races across the country, ensuring that Democrats will retake the majority in the House of Representatives when the 116th Congress is gaveled into session on January 3.

All major networks have now projected that Democrats will regain control of the House.

“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), currently the minority leader in the House, during a victory speech shortly after 11:30 pm.

The Democratic Party needed a net gain of 23 seats in order to retake the House, and with several dozen races still left to be decided, the question now becomes how large their majority will be. Most estimates put the Democratic majority at roughly 25 seats.

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The election result has consequences: Democrats will now have new authority to provide much-needed oversight of the Trump administration, which has relied on the willingness of Republicans in Congress to look the other way as Trump, as a lawsuit filed by 200 Democratic members of Congress alleges, has broken federal laws unimpeded for the last two years, for the purpose of self-enrichment.

Democrats have vowed to subpoena long-sought Trump records, including his tax returns and other campaign-related documents. They will also have more power to ensure the ongoing Russia investigation is not obstructed by the Trump White House’s machinations. In all, Congressional Democrats have submitted 52 subpoena requests pertaining to the White House since Donald Trump took office, all of which were rejected by Republican leadership. As the majority, those subpoenas will now be allowed to proceed.

Controlling the House will, of course, also further limit Trump’s ability to pass any significant legislation, though he has demonstrated only a limited ability to do so even with majorities in both chambers. Republicans are projected to retain control of the Senate after upstart challenges by Democrats like Beto O’Rourke in Texas and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee fell short, as expected.

The first order of business for the Democrats will be to choose the next Speaker of the House. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the current minority leader, is the likeliest candidate to retake the position she lost when Democrats lost control of the House, but several other prominent Democrats — notably, key members of the Congressional Black Caucus — have voiced their interest in seeking the top leadership spot. Donald Trump will also find himself beholden to a number of critical committee chairs, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) who will likely assume the role of chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. Waters has stated her intention of subpoenaing the Trump family’s financial records in search of ties to Russian officials and other foreign investors.

One outstanding question is whether there will be enough support among Democrats to introduce articles of impeachment in the new Congress. Several victorious candidates made impeachment a central talking point of their campaigns, but it is generally unclear how many Democrats would support such an effort.