Democrats regained control of the U.S. House in Tuesday’s elections and Republicans kept the Senate, adding as many as three seats to what had been a razor-thin majority.

Those changes will have implications for members of Maine’s congressional delegation.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, who won a sixth term representing Maine’s 1st District, stands to benefit most.

Pingree is close to Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who likely will reclaim her position as speaker of the House, a title she held for four years at the end of George W. Bush’s final term as president and the first two years of Barack Obama’s first term. Pelosi has been House minority leader since, but if she’s elected speaker, she will control committee assignments and decide which Democrats chair committees.

“The next Congress will have more women serving in the U.S. House than ever and I believe we should have a female speaker,” Pingree said in an email through her staff in response to questions from the Portland Press Herald. “I’ll consider all the candidates before I vote, but it’s clear that Nancy is a very hard-working, experienced leader and she helped Democrats regain the majority after eight years.”



Rep. Chellie Pingree

Pingree has served on arguably the most powerful committee, the House Appropriations Committee, since 2013 and expects to stay there.

“Now that we are in the majority, I’m hopeful that I can have even more influence over the spending priorities that affect the well-being of Mainers,” she said.

House Democrats also will likely position themselves as the first real check on Donald Trump’s presidency, and that could mean new investigations or, possibly, impeachment proceedings.

Pingree said she’s most interested in seeing special counsel Robert Mueller finish his investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign and whether Russia interfered to help get him elected.

“When the Mueller investigation reaches its conclusion, the House majority should act on its findings,” she said.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the Mueller investigation. During his post-midterm election news conference Wednesday, the president again referred to it as a “hoax.” So far, Mueller has brought charges against 34 people as part of his investigation, including Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.



Because Maine’s 2nd District race is too close to call and is headed to ranked-choice tabulation because no candidate got 50 percent of the votes, assessing that is moot. But if Rep. Bruce Poliquin wins re-election to a third term, he’ll find himself in the minority for the first time. If Democrat Jared Golden emerges, he’ll join the majority, but as a first-time legislator he likely won’t get any high-profile assignments.

Power didn’t shift in the U.S. Senate after Tuesday’s election. Republicans still control the chamber with at least 51 votes and could add three more seats. Races in Florida and Arizona remained too close to call Wednesday but Republicans held narrow leads in each. The other undecided Senate seat, in Mississippi, will go to a runoff between Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy.

In any scenario, it appears the Republicans will add to their lead, and that would likely make Maine Sen. Susan Collins less of a swing vote.

Collins, in her fourth term, has been watched as closely as ever during the past two years since the election of Trump, whom she did not support. She was one of only three Republicans to thwart attempts by Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but she also joined her party in voting for major tax cuts and was perhaps the deciding vote in the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.



Sen. Susan Collins

Collins, who attended an event Wednesday in Augusta, said she would have preferred that Republicans had kept control of the House, but she also said a divided government could provide more opportunities for members of both parties to work together in the House and Senate.

“I look at this as an opportunity. An opportunity for people like me, who are in the middle and who try to bring people together, to have willing partners in both the House and Senate,” she said.

The reconstituted Senate is less likely to affect independent Angus King, who handily won re-election Tuesday over his challengers. King joked to supporters that he was hoping the final breakdown of the Senate might be 50-50.

“So I could go to (Democratic leader) Chuck Schumer and (Republican Senate president) Mitch McConnell and start a bidding war,” he said.

King, always the historian, said the divided Congress is yet another example of the types of checks and balances the country’s founders envisioned.

“That’s the way it’s supposed to work and I’m certainly going to be participating,” he said.

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