Experts doubt midterm elections' impact on foreign policy

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-08 21:43:59|Editor: xuxin
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Despite a Democratic House victory in Tuesday's midterm elections, experts are predicting no significant impact on U.S. foreign policy in the coming years.

A Democratic majority in the lower chamber for the first time in eight years would empower Democrats to call hearings and subpoena witnesses, as they chair committees like Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's administration, feeling this blow, is set to strengthen its grip on the Senate.

Experts believe that the House will revisit policies on war-torn Yemen and assertively push for a hardline stance on Riyadh over the Khashoggi case, through tightening U.S. arms sales and limiting supporting operations.

They also predict a Democratic to-do list which includes more hearings on defense spending, trade relations, the abandonment of the Iran deal and scrutiny of Trump's relations with Russia.

Though the Democrats may assume a bigger role in setting spending policy and writing legislation, experts are doubtful of any dramatic alteration to Trump's foreign policy since cooperation with a Republican-controlled Senate is a must before passing any bills.

"They can launch investigations and look into conflicts of interests. They can call for hearings. They can request reports, but I don't see this leading to a different kind of policy," Brett Schaefer, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said.

Echoing Schaefer's remarks, Foreign Policy magazine senior correspondent, Michael Hirsh said: "In reality, the House of Representatives has much less power over foreign policy than the Senate, which can approve treaties and confirm high officials."

Jamie Fly, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a public policy think tank, projected difficulties for a Democratic check on the Trump administration's actions despite foreign policy disagreements within Republican ranks.

There is also the longtime historical record of the executive's primacy, if not dominance, in U.S. foreign policy, he said.

Colin Dueck, Professor at the Virginia-based George Mason University said that looking back, the recent presidents have tended to react to midterm losses with a forceful determination to steer along their settled course, such as that of President George W. Bush in 2006-07 with regard to Iraq and of President Barack Obama in 2010-11 and 2014-15 on Iran.

Dueck pointed out that when it comes to American foreign policy, presidents tend to assume remarkable leeway in exercising executive authority regardless of congressional majorities.