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Elections 2012: Senate Remains in Democratic Control

The next Congress will look like the last one. Only more so.

House Speaker John Boehner will return to lead the House of Representatives. The Hill newspaper reported: “In a warning to President [Barack] Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday night that the reelection of the House Republican majority means that there is ‘no mandate for raising tax rates’ on the American people.”

The Senate, however, remains in Democratic hands with Nevada’s Harry Reid remaining as the Majority Leader. The Democrats even picked up a seat, winning in Massachusetts with Elizabeth Warren, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and independent Angus King in Maine.

The House has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act some 30 times but those votes mean nothing when the bill has no chance of even a hearing before the Senate.

But Reid and Boehner will not have to wait long to begin work. A lame-duck Congress meets next week to try and resolve the so-called fiscal cliff, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, a payroll tax holiday, budget sequestration and the need to raise the debt ceiling.

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Boehner’s role is complicated because he must try and find consensus with Democrats, and, at the same time, keep the Tea Party coalition in the House happy.

Indian Country played a key role in at least two Senate races. There was a heavy turnout in Wisconsin in tribal communities, helping elect Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate. She will be the first openly Gay member of that body. In Montana, the race was still close, but Jon Tester was clinging to a lead. Tribal communities were engaged in his campaign and turnout on reservations was strong. The Great Falls Tribune reported that on the Blackfeet Reservation there were more voters than ballots and temporary ones had to be created. A similar story was unfolding in North Dakota where Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was clinging to a lead.

For his part, Senator Reid was wasting no time to begin pressing Republicans to compromise.

“Now that the election is over, it’s time to put politics aside, and work together to find solutions. The strategy of obstruction, gridlock and delay was soundly rejected by the American people,” Reid said in a statement. “Now, they are looking to us for solutions. We have big challenges facing us in the months ahead. Democrats and Republicans must come together, and show that we are up to the challenge. This is no time for excuses. This is no time for putting things off until later. We can achieve big things when we work together. And the middle class is counting on us to achieve big things in the months ahead. That is what the American people expect – and that is what the American people deserve.”

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: