WASHINGTON– The control of Congress next term will be divided between Republicans and Democrats after the most expensive U.S. midterm elections in history.

Multiple U.S. media outlets projected on Wednesday evening Republicans to take control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years. 

Republicans have won 218 seats out of all 435 House races, reaching the majority threshold, versus 208 for Democrats, while nine elections are still too close to call, according to CNN projections. 

NBC News, CBS News and Fox News have also called the fight to be a House majority in favor of Republicans. 

Democrats, meanwhile, will retain control of the U.S. Senate with at least 50 seats in the 100-member chamber and 49 others for Republicans despite Georgia’s race headed to a runoff next month.

The Senate is currently divided 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of Democrats. U.S. President Joe Biden issued a statement on Wednesday evening in response to the new balance of power on Capitol Hill. 

“In this election, voters spoke clearly about their concerns,” Biden said while urging the two parties not to be “trapped in political warfare.” 

An exit poll released by NBC News last week showed that most 2022 voters said they are dissatisfied or angry about how things are going in the United States. 

The voters also named inflation the most important issue in deciding how they cast their ballots, followed by abortion, crime, gun policy and immigration.

“The election results are still being microscopically analyzed by both parties to discern the messages from voters, which could inform how party leaders proceed over the next two years with a presidential contest on the horizon,” The New York Times wrote in a new analysis.

“But one thing is already clear: With an almost nonexistent majority in the House, Republicans are in for a rough ride, and it will be a challenge to get even the most basic work of Congress done,” the analysis issued on Wednesday underlined.

 Senate Republicans on Wednesday re-elected Mitch McConnell, 80, as their leader as Congress returned for a lame-duck session.

McConnell, a longtime Senate Republican leader from Kentucky, tweeted later that he would fight “Democrats’ recklessness” and “promote our commonsense conservative vision.”

Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has said he will continue to be the majority leader in the Senate.

On Tuesday, Schumer tweeted allegations that Republicans were running with “extreme MAGA candidates” in the midterm races.

MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, a political campaign slogan popularized by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump announced Tuesday night that he would run for the White House again in a speech that critics and pundits said was full of false and misleading claims.

McConnell, who has had a tense relationship with Trump, told reporters Wednesday that he will “stay out of” the 2024 presidential primary season.

Last week, Biden said that he intends to seek re-election but hasn’t made an official decision. House Republicans on Tuesday nominated Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to be the chamber’s speaker next term. It remains unclear who will lead House Democrats in the next two years.

“Republicans have officially flipped the People’s House,” McCarthy, a California congressman, tweeted Wednesday evening.

During an interview with CNN before the Nov. 8 elections, McCarthy said Republican priorities include border security, cut in government spending and investigations into the Biden administration.

Biden has tried to dismiss potential investigations led by Republicans as “just almost comedy” but admitted that he “can’t control what they’re going to do.”

The new Congress will convene for the first time on Jan. 3, 2023. In this year’s midterm elections, 36 out of 50 states and three U.S. territories elected governors. Numerous other state and local elections were also contested.

   The total cost of 2022 state and federal midterm elections is projected to exceed 16.7 billion U.S. dollars, according to a new OpenSecrets analysis released earlier this month. 

“No other midterm election has seen as much money at the state and federal levels as the 2022 elections,” said Sheila Krumholz, OpenSecrets’ executive director.

“We’re seeing record-breaking totals spent on elections up and down the ballot.”

The Georgia Senate runoff — scheduled for Dec. 6 — between Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is likely to push the record even higher. 

“Massive spending by a small number of megadonors illustrated how much our political process has become a rich person’s game,” Ian Vandewalker and Mariana Paez of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in an analysis published on Wednesday.

The center is a nonpartisan American law and policy institute. “Increasingly, our system allows a few to use their extreme private wealth to mold our politics,” they pointed out. – Xinhua