The US is waking to a new reality on Capitol Hill with the Democrats new confirmed as the dominant force in both Houses of Congress. Not long after President George W Bush had congratulated the new speaker of the House of Representatives, news came that the Senate, too, had fallen to the Democrats. After the tightest of election races Republican Senator George Allen finally conceded defeat in Virginia, tipping the balance in favour of the Democrats in the 100-seat chamber.
Defeat appears to have put paid to Allen’s reputed presidential ambitions. Democrat Jim Webb’s victory means for the first time in 12 years the Democrats have the majority in Congress. Their majority in the House of Representatives is much healthier and it is here that bi-partisan policies will be thrashed out.
Bush has already signalled his willingness to work with the opposition and says he welcomes its input into Iraq policy. Democrats will be pushing for clear strategies for bringing US troops home. Despite the apparent spirit of cooperation on Capitol Hill, analysts say many tough battles lie ahead.