Political Focus: What does the blue wave mean for American politics for the next two years?

The much anticipated “blue wave” made true on its promise on Tuesday, Nov. 6, leading to a sweeping control of the United States House of Representatives by Democrats, while three seats in the Senate were lost to the Republicans. There was a lot of anticipation on both sides of the aisle, but with the midterms over, what does this mean for the political landscape of the U.S.? Let us focus on the powers of the House.

The House of Representatives, if you remember from your high school civics class, is one of our two houses of the legislative branch, the lawmaking branch of government. The House of Representatives currently has 435 members, proportionally representing their states depending on their population.

These members most notably form groups within the House called committees, groups of representatives that hold hearings, prepare bills for the entire house, and regulate house procedure. Now with a majority of the House becoming Democrats, some of these committees will have Democratic leadership, including the Appropriations Committee, which is critical to the budget creating process.

But this structure is very secondary to the other major power the House holds, the one that has everyone all riled up — the House has the power to begin the impeachment process, and all orders that pertain to it.

Besides ordering the beginnings of the impeachment process, the House can use subpoenas to order the releasing of documents. This power is instrumental in investigating government officials, something that everyone and their mothers wish they had the power to do right now.

They also have the power to compel witnesses to testify, and with President Donald Trump’s endless conveyor belt of aides and officials constantly leaving the White House, there may be plenty of witnesses for the Democratic Party to question. It’s been a long year, but don’t forget that Trump isn’t the only White House inhabitant that has been under scrutiny this year. This power is equally as important in keeping corrupt officials, like former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, in check.

The House’s final investigative power is being able to hold witnesses in contempt for not testifying or providing information to an investigation. This can, in some cases, lead to a witness being sent to jail until the person agrees to testify, but that is only in rare cases.

All in all, the House may share equal power with the Senate in terms of legislation, but the House of Representatives is unique in its investigative powers. It doesn’t take much thought to know that a Democratic House would love to start using these powers to investigate many fishy aspects of the Trump administration.

This sudden shift in power has already led to a seemingly pre-planned removal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his position, another concerning political action reportedly trying to end the Mueller investigation. It looks like this administration is still not comfortable with some information being revealed to the public.

The only question that remains is, what could Trump still be hiding?