Now the real battle begins: ‘fiscal cliff’ looms for Obama with Congress deadlocked

 

Washington DC

The US Congress faces continuing gridlock as the country hurtles towards a “fiscal cliff”, with the House of Representatives and the Senate remaining as divided as before amid record spending by outside groups to influence the result.

One notable result in the Senate was the upset victory by Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate who defeated Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts for the seat held over decades by Democratic legend Ted Kennedy.

However, another feature of the election was the punishment of at least two Tea Party-backed Senate hopefuls who, after winning the support of the Republican Party’s conservative grass roots in primary elections, failed to be endorsed by their states’ electorate as a whole.

After losing the House in the 2008 tidal wave for President Barack Obama that put Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, the Republican Party, buoyed by right-wing extremists in the Tea Party, seized back the House in 2010 on an anti-tax and anti-government platform.

The election outcome means that the House will remain under control of the House, while the Senate will continue to have a majority of Democrats.

In Indiana, Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock was defeated by Democrat Joe Donnelly. Mr Mourdock was backed by the Tea Party and had earlier beaten veteran Senator Richard Lugar in a primary. However, the candidate’s remark that if a woman became pregnant after rape it was “something God wanted to happen”, embarrassed the party’s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, just before the election. The Indiana contest was the most costly the state has ever seen, with outside groups and the party campaigns spending more than $25m on television advertisements.

In Missouri, incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill defeated Todd Akin, a six-term Congressman backed by the Tea Party. Mr Akin’s remarks about women’s bodies avoiding pregnancy after “legitimate rape” led to his disavowal in mid-August by Mr Romney and Republican mainstream. But he defied their calls to stand down and his campaign was funded by social conservative groups.

Another major scalp for the Democrats would be Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party ideologue and Congresswoman from Minnesota. She ran an ill-fated campaign to become the Republican presidential candidate and has poured $19m into her campaign against businessman Jim Graves, who has spent $1.5m but has managed to close in on Ms Bachmann. The pair were locked in a tight race last night.

The spending in the Minnesota contest made it the second highest in the nation, after Florida’s 18th district, where Republican Congressman Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy have spent $24m between them, according to the website opensecrets.org.

In Maine, outgoing centrist Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who complained about the obstructionism by extremists in both main parties, was replaced by independent Angus King, a former governor who overcame challenges from both Republican and Democratic candidates. He is likely to vote with the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Many of the Congressional candidates’ televised exchanges highlighted the gravity of the “fiscal cliff”. Congress is required to act before the end of the year in order to stave off automatic cuts of $600bn in tax rises and spending cuts which could pitch America back into recession. But the House speaker, John Boehner, has played down talk of a possible “grand bargain” in the so-called Lame Duck session of Congress which continues until January.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?