US midterm elections: Why are they so important?
The US elections on 8 November will have an enormous impact on the direction of the nation, as well as the fate of the person and the party in power in the White House.
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Joe Biden is not on the ballot - the midterms decide who controls Congress as well as state legislatures and governor's offices. But the outcome will influence the playing field for the 2024 presidential campaign, and especially the odds of Donald Trump running again.
Here are five reasons why these elections are so important:
Abortion rights or restrictions
This is a textbook case for understanding how midterm voting can directly influence the shape of future policies and the day-to-day lives of Americans across the country.
In June the Supreme Court overturned constitutionally protected abortion rights. Both parties have already proposed new federal abortion legislation if they control Congress in the coming year.
Democrats promise to codify into federal law abortion rights that were protected by the Supreme Court's Roe vs Wade decision. Republicans have proposed a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a rule that would supersede existing protections in Democratic-run states like California, Illinois and New York.
The power to investigate and obstruct
The midterm elections will have an impact well beyond policy circles, however. For two years, congressional oversight has been under Democratic control, limiting the amount of scrutiny the White House has faced and making the 6 January riot the primary focus of its investigations.
All that will change if Republicans take control of one chamber of Congress - or both. Already House Republicans are promising hearings on Joe Biden's son Hunter's business ties to China, as well as a detailed investigations into the Biden administration's immigration policies, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
If Republicans also take control of the US Senate, expect the process for confirming Biden picks to the federal courts and executive agencies to grind to a standstill.