Republicans swept out of power in U.S. HouseBy CP
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Democrats grabbed more seats from Republicans than they needed to regain control of the House of Representatives early today in high-stakes midterm elections focused on Iraq that could alter President George W. Bush's agenda in his last two years.
Jubilant Democrats were still battling for the Senate but confident of having a majority in the House for the first time in 12 years after picking up far more than the magic number of 15 seats. Their victory becomes official when they they reach 218 seats of the 435-member house.
California's Nancy Pelosi, expected to become the first woman to hold the post of House speaker, promised to restore integrity and honesty in Congress and called on Bush to change course in Iraq.
"The American people voted for change and they voted for Democrats to take our country in a new direction. And that's exactly what we intend to do," Pelosi said.
"We accept your vote, not as a victory for our party, but as an opportunity for our country," said Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman who led the campaign charge for the party in the lower chamber.
"What we're doing in Iraq isn't working."
Republicans were stoically optimistic to the end, painting Democrats as out-of-control spenders who would leave Iraq in a mess and make Americans more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Bush, who watched the returns from the White House, is slated to hold news conference today.
In the more difficult Senate races, Democrats were half-way to winning the six seats they needed, toppling Republicans in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Rhode Island after an unusually nasty campaign where scandals at home and Bush's own falling popularity also figured prominently.
The outcome in the Senate, where 33 seats were up for grabs, hinged on tight races in Missouri, Montana and Virginia.
"So far, so good," said Democrat Charles Schumer, who steered the Senate election campaign for the party.
"We really care about taking our country back, about changing the course in Iraq, about helping average people pay the bills."
At press time, the Democrats and Republicans each held 49 seats in the Senate, with two undecided.