After the November 2004 election, the figures for Congress stood at:

House of Representatives:

Democrats: 202 (loss of 4 seats)
Republicans: 232 (gain of 4 seats)
Independents: 1 (same)


Democrat: 44 (loss of 4 seats)
Republicans: 55 (gain of 4 seats)
Independents: 1 (same)

The ‘new’ Congress sat as from January 2005.

Though, on paper, this gives the impression that the Republicans reign supreme in Washington (including 7 out of 9 Supreme Court judges being appointed by a Republican president), this would be a false impression. Congress is fiercely independent of the Oval Office and steadfastly supports separation of power and a checks and balance system. Therefore, it (Congress) must not be seen as being merely a poodle to G W Bush – it will almost certainly stand its ground when it believes it should do so. The first main test will be the presidential budget. However, as all of the House will be up for election again in 2006 and 1/3rd of the Senate, in this hour of need within America (a nation at war etc), the president will have the upper hand and the immediate ‘buzz’ in Washington is that this Congress might be more compliant to the Oval Office than in the past – especially as the 4 newly elected Republican Senators may well have owed their success to ‘clinging to the coat tails’ of the president.

‘Clinging to the coat tails’ is an American expression whereby Congressmen win election to the House/Senate because of the popularity of the president and the party he represents – i.e. there is a knock on effect.