Senate passes, sends Trump stopgap federal funding to November 21

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would extend federal funding through Nov. 21 and avert partial agency shutdowns when existing authorization expires on Oct. 1.

The Senate signed off by a vote of 82 to 15 on legislation that was approved by the House of Representatives on Sept. 19, sending it to President Donald Trump for signing into law.

The legislation is needed because Congress and the Trump administration so far have failed to agree on the one-dozen bills that would fund most government activities in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

One of the biggest disagreements is over Trump’s demand for $12 billion in fiscal 2020 to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which most Democrats and some Republicans oppose.

A central promise of Trump’s presidency has been the construction of a wall to repel immigrants, many from Central America, from crossing into the United States.

In the face of congressional opposition, Trump early this year declared a national emergency, which he said allowed him to divert appropriated money from other programs to the border wall. On Wednesday, the Senate voted to end that emergency declaration, a move Trump likely would veto if the House of Representatives takes the same step.

There are also unresolved disagreements over funding for immigrant detention centers, public health facilities and other issues.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Many U.S. farmers fume at Washington, not Trump, over biofuel, trade policies

FILE PHOTO: A crop scout walks through a soybean field to check on crops during the Pro Farmer 2019 Midwest Crop Tour, in Allen County, Indiana, U.S., August 19, 2019. REUTERS/P.J. Huffstutter

By P.J. Huffstutter and Tom Polansek

ROCHESTER, Minn./CHICAGO (Reuters) – American farmers helped elect President Donald Trump in 2016 on hopes he would shake up Washington and turn around a struggling agricultural economy, but many of his policies have actually stung farmers, notably his trade war with China and biofuel waivers for oil refiners.

Many farmers are angry, and some are directing their anger not at the Republican president, but at Washington’s bureaucracy.

Trump has faced backlash from agricultural groups, ethanol producers and Midwestern politicians upset that his trade war with China has slashed export sales of U.S. soybeans and other crops. Also, Corn futures tumbled after the government forecast a big crop when a flood-ridden spring stalled plantings. Corn-based ethanol plants shuttered after the administration granted waivers to dozens of exempting oil refineries.

Yet polls show that while Trump’s support in farm country has slipped, it remains substantial.

Instead of directing their anger at Trump, dozens of farmers interviewed by Reuters blasted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other Washington institutions they believe are thwarting his true agenda. Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories involving USDA staff are circulating in farm country and gaining traction online.

USDA did not respond to Reuters’ questions on Monday.

Farmers are struggling with how to emotionally process their pain from the Trump administration’s policies, and anger at the USDA may be a coping mechanism, said Ted Matthews, a Minnesota psychologist who has spent 30 years counseling farmers and rural residents across the Midwest.

“The question I hear from farmers who voted for (Trump) is, ‘We believed him when he said he would help make the farm economy better, that we could save our farms. Now, who do we blame?'” Matthews said.

Many farmers told Reuters they intend to support Trump again in his re-election bid in 2020.

“It’s much easier to be angry at a faceless Washington bureaucracy than at the man you voted for,” said Jere Solvie, 69, grain and hog farmer from west-central Minnesota who voted for Trump and still supports him.

Ahead of Democratic nominating contests, that party’s presidential candidates have been campaigning hard in Iowa and other Midwestern states where farms have lost billions of dollars in crop sales to China.

Still, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted last month shows five in 10 U.S. adults in rural areas approved of Trump’s performance in office, higher than his 41% approval nationwide.

Trump’s approval rating was 71% as of Aug. 23, down from 79% in July, according to trade publication Farm Journal Pulse’s poll of 1,153 farmers.

Of the farmers who supported the president, 43% said they “strongly approve” – down 10% from July and the first time the number fell below 50%. The farm journal’s poll came as ethanol groups complained that demand was decimated when Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency granted biofuel waivers to dozens of refineries, saving the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

ALREADY FURIOUS

The USDA is a natural scapegoat and a topic of conspiracy theories among farmers suspicious of its sprawling bureaucracy, career employees and its research who sometimes conflicts with what they see on their own farms.

One farmer, enraged by the USDA’s corn crop estimate, threatened an agency employee last month. The threat of violence prompted USDA to pull all staff from a privately run crop tour that surveys Midwest crops.

This is a sharp contrast to the early days in the administration when Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was a reliable point person. His folksy southern charm and his appeals to patriotism helped sell Trump’s policies to farmers, even the trade war.

But Perdue’s honeymoon in farm country has ended. Farmers booed the agriculture secretary in Minnesota last month after he joked: “What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.”

“He’s supposed to support us, especially during times of distress,” said Gary Wertish, a fourth-generation Minnesotan who farms 500 acres of corn, soybeans and navy beans, and heard the remarks in person.

Grain farmers were already furious that corn futures prices <Cv1> posted their biggest drop in three years after USDA estimated a bigger-than-expected crop on Aug. 12, despite floods that slowed planting.

Market analysts said farmers have more of a localized view on crop health and are often skeptical of the national focus of USDA forecasts.

Trump voter Byron Heppler, a soybean and corn farmer from Calhoun, Kentucky, said he is open to considering other Republican candidates if any emerge. He said he believes USDA’s research methods are flawed and he feels its employees want to unseat Trump, although he offered no evidence to back up those views.

Other disgruntled farmers have also alleged, without offering evidence, that federal agriculture employees are overestimating corn plantings as part of a plot to hurt Trump in the 2020 election. These farmers said they believe USDA employees are upset the administration is relocating hundreds of economists and other researchers to Kansas City from Washington.

The agency has stood by its forecasts, saying they are in part based on surveys of thousands of farmers. On Trump’s order, the agency has rolled out $28 billion in trade aid support for farmers over the past two years.

Wes Hitchcock, a corn farmer and Trump supporter in Sparks, Nebraska, wrote a 1,700-word paper titled “USDA vs. Trump” and has repeatedly posted it on Facebook in a grain market discussion group with 13,000 members.

Hitchcock said he was unable to plant about 30% of the 2,200 corn acres he had planned to grow because of heavy rains this spring. The corn he did manage to plant is not looking great, either, he said.

“I’m going bankrupt and everybody else will this year too,” he said in a phone interview with Reuters.

His Facebook posts received some skeptical responses.

“To think the USDA deliberately is skewing numbers to make their boss look bad and that people appointed by the president allowed this to happen is delusional,” wrote a user named Zach Alger from Palmyra, Pennsylvania.

(Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Decatur, Illinois; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and David Gregorio)

Senate’s McConnell: ‘Case closed’ on Mueller probe, but top Democrat sees ‘cover-up

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question from reporters next to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as he arrives for a closed Senate Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday sought to slam the door on further investigations of President Donald Trump by declaring “case closed” after a two-year probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, even as House Democrats’ war with the White House intensified.

McConnell, the top Republican in the U.S. Congress, delivered a stinging rebuke of Democrats seeking additional information on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that found no evidence Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.

(Graphic: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-TRUMP-RUSSIA/010091HX27V/report.pdf)

“The special counsel’s finding is clear. Case closed,” McConnell declared.

Meanwhile, battles between the White House and congressional Democrats over documents and testimony related to the Mueller investigation deepened on Tuesday.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone informed the House Judiciary Committee in a letter that ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn does not have the legal right to comply with a House of Representatives subpoena and disclose documents related to Mueller’s investigation.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, when asked by ABC News whether McGahn would comply with the subpoena, said, “I don’t anticipate that that takes place.”

McConnell accused Democrats of being in an “absolute meltdown” and refusing “to accept the bottom line conclusion” that Mueller’s “exhaustive” report found no collusion with Russia.

Since the public release of the report last month, House and Senate Republicans have defended the president and called for an end to congressional investigations.

Mueller detailed extensive contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. His 448-page report also outlined 11 instances in which the president tried to impede the special counsel’s investigation, but avoided a conclusion on whether or not Trump obstructed justice.

Speaking on the Senate floor after McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer fired back, calling Trump a “lawless president” and accusing the Senate Republican leader of wanting to bury any congressional investigations.

“Of course he wants to move on. He wants to cover up,” Schumer said of McConnell.

Schumer likened McConnell’s move to President Richard Nixon, who was under investigation by Congress before resigning from office in 1974 in the face of impeachment and likely conviction.

“It’s sort of like Richard Nixon saying let’s move on at the height of the investigation of his wrongdoing,” Schumer said.

While McConnell urged an end to the fight over the Mueller report, he acknowledged that was unlikely. Democrats hold a majority in the House, while Republicans control the Senate.

“Would we finally be able to move on from partisan paralysis and breathless conspiracy theorizing? Or would we remain consumed by unhinged partisanship,” McConnell said, adding, “Regrettably, the answer is pretty obvious.”

House Democrats prepared to meet with Justice Department officials on Tuesday over Attorney General William Barr’s failure to release the full unredacted Mueller report as they prepared to cite him for contempt.

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Wednesday vote on a contempt citation for Barr, who missed a second deadline to give lawmakers the full report and failed to appear at a hearing before the panel last week.

The full House would then vote on the rebuke.

A contempt citation against McGahn or other administration officials could lead to a civil case, raising the possibility of fines and even imprisonment for failure to comply.

The Judiciary Committee is among several House panels investigating Trump and his administration on various matters, including the Russia probe and Trump’s personal and business tax returns.

The administration is stonewalling congressional investigators while the president, who has denied any wrongdoing, vowed to fight all congressional subpoenas.

On Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin turned down the House Ways and Means Committee’s request for Trump’s tax returns, teeing up a likely legal battle.

Democratic lawmakers want Mueller to testify before Congress, something Trump has balked at although Barr has said he would not object.

If lawmakers decide that Trump obstructed justice by seeking to impede Mueller, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler could move to impeachment proceedings against the president.

If the House goes down the impeachment route, at least some Republican support would be needed for a Senate conviction.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Tim Ahmann and Steve Holland; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Shutdown costs pegged at $3 billion as U.S. government reopens

Commuters walk from the Federal Triangle Metro station after the U.S. government reopened with about 800,000 federal workers returning after a 35-day shutdown in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By David Morgan and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy was expected to lose $3 billion from the partial federal government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demand for border wall funding, congressional researchers said on Monday as 800,000 federal employees returned to work after a 35-day unpaid furlough.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the cost of the shutdown will make the U.S. economy 0.02 percent smaller than expected in 2019. More significant effects will be felt by individual businesses and workers, particularly those who went without pay.

Overall, the U.S. economy lost about $11 billion during the five-week period, CBO said. However, CBO expects $8 billion to be recovered as the government reopens and employees receive back pay.

The longest shutdown in U.S. history ended on Friday when Trump and Congress agreed to temporary government funding – without money for his wall – as the effects of the shutdown intensified across the country.

Republican Trump had demanded that legislation to fund the government contain $5.7 billion for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He says it is necessary to stop illegal immigration, human trafficking and drug smuggling, while Democrats call it costly, inefficient and immoral.

A committee of lawmakers from both major parties holds their first open meeting on Wednesday as they try to negotiate a compromise on border security before the Feb. 15 deadline.

The CBO estimated the shutdown reduced gross domestic product in the last quarter of 2018 by $3 billion.

It said that in the first quarter of 2019, the level of real GDP is estimated to be $8 billion lower than it would have been, citing “an effect reflecting both the five-week partial shutdown and the resumption in economic activity once funding resumed.”

Trump said he would be willing to shut down the government again if lawmakers do not reach a deal he finds acceptable on border security. On Sunday, he expressed skepticism such a deal could be made, putting the odds at 50-50.

Trump has also said he might declare a national emergency to get money for the border wall. Democrats would likely challenge that in court.

The CBO report serves as a stark warning to Trump against another shutdown, said U.S. Representative John Yarmuth, the Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee.

“The CBO confirms that the Trump shutdown had a debilitating effect on our entire economy, and if it were to resume in three weeks, millions of Americans would again share the pain of the 800,000 workers who spent the past month without a paycheck,” he said.

Most employees should be paid by Thursday for back pay, which one study estimated at $6 billion for all those furloughed. Contractors and businesses that relied on federal workers’ business, however, face huge losses, although some lawmakers are pushing legislation to pay contractors back as well.

Federal workers poured off of commuter buses and subway escalators on a block of downtown Washington on Monday. Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai greeted employees in the lobby, while the Securities and Exchange Commission offered doughnuts, fruit and coffee.

“I’m ready to go. I’m rested and I’m ready. I’m energized,” Gary Hardy, a manager in the Employee Assistance Program at the Department of Homeland Security.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was reviewing five weeks of auto safety recalls that had been submitted by automakers but has not yet begun posting them publicly. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would assess and prioritize immediate post-shutdown needs.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Mana Rabiee and Susan Heavey; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Grant McCool)

House Democrats to test Republicans on Trump’s wall demand

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives for a House Democratic party caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On the 19th day of a partial U.S. government shutdown, Democrats were set on Wednesday to test Republicans’ resolve in backing President Donald Trump’s drive to build a wall on the border with Mexico, which has sparked an impasse over agency funding.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats, who took control of the chamber last week, plan to advance a bill to immediately reopen the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several other agencies that have been partially shut down since Dec. 22.

Democrats are eager to force Republicans to choose between funding the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service – at a time when it should be gearing up to issue tax refunds to millions of Americans – and voting to keep it partially shuttered.

In a countermove, the Trump administration said on Tuesday that even without a new shot of funding, the IRS would somehow make sure those refund checks get sent.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Wednesday that Trump was still considering a declaration of a national emergency to circumvent Congress and redirect government funds toward the wall.

The Republican president’s push for a massive barrier on the border has dominated the Washington debate and sparked a political blame game as both Trump and Democrats remain dug in.

In a nationally televised address on Tuesday night, Trump asked: “How much more American blood must be shed before Congress does its job?” referring to murders he said were committed by illegal immigrants.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate on Wednesday with an attack on Democrats for not supporting Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for the wall.

But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s speech was a rehash of spurious arguments and misleading statistics.

“The president continues to fearmonger and he makes up the facts,” Schumer said.

DEMOCRATIC TACTICS

Later in the week, Pelosi plans to force votes that one-by-one provide the money to operate departments ranging from Homeland Security and Justice to State, Agriculture, Commerce and Labor.

By using a Democratic majority to ram those bills through the House, Pelosi is hoping enough Senate Republicans back her up and abandon Trump’s wall gambit.

The political maneuvering comes amid a rising public backlash over the suspension of some government activities that has resulted in the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

Other “essential” employees are being required to report to work, but without pay for the time being.

As House Democrats plow ahead, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will go to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to attend a weekly closed lunch meeting of Senate Republicans.

They are expected to urge them to hold firm on his wall demands, even as some are publicly warning their patience is wearing thin.

Later in the day, Trump is scheduled to host bipartisan congressional leaders to see if they can break the deadlock. On Thursday, Trump travels to the border to highlight an immigration “crisis” that his base of conservative supporters wants him to address.

With tempers running high over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion just for this year to fund wall construction, there are doubts Pelosi’s plan will succeed in forcing the Senate to act.

McConnell has not budged from his hard line of refusing to bring up any government funding bill that does not have Trump’s backing even as a few moderate members of his caucus have called for an end to the standoff.

The funding fight stems from Congress’ inability to complete work by a Sept. 30, 2018, deadline on funding all government agencies. It did, however, appropriate money for about 75 percent of the government by that deadline – mainly military and health-related programs.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott and Alistair Bell)

Trump says U.S. government shutdown to last until agreement on border wall

U.S. President Donald Trump clasps his hands as he holds a video call with U.S. military service members in the Oval Office on Christmas morning in Washington, U.S., December 25, 2018. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the partial shutdown of the federal government was going to last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is met.

The U.S. government partially shut down on Saturday, and there is not yet any sign of tangible efforts to reopen agencies closed by a political impasse over Trump’s demand for border wall funds.

“I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,” Trump said, speaking after a Christmas Day video conference with U.S. troops serving abroad. “I can tell you it’s not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into the country, from drugs.”

He added: “If you don’t have that (the wall), then we’re just not opening.”

Funding for about a quarter of federal programs – including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture – expired at midnight on Friday. Without a deal to break the impasse, the shutdown is likely to stretch into the new year.

Building the wall was one of Trump’s most frequently repeated campaign promises, but Democrats are vehemently opposed to it.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; writing by Yeganeh Torbati, editing by G Crosse)

Trump points to Republican gains, broaches cooperation with Democrats

Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill addresses her supporters at her midterm election night party in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. November 6, 2018. McCaskill conceded the election to Republican Josh Hawley. REUTERS/Sarah Conard

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday portrayed the midterm election results as “an incredible day” for his Republicans despite a Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives that will lead to greater restraints on his administration.

At a White House news conference, Trump argued that Republicans beat historical odds in Tuesday’s elections, saying the party’s gains in the U.S. Senate outweighed its loss of the House.

He also mocked those Republican candidates who lost their seats after refusing to embrace him on the campaign trail, such as U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

“It was a big day yesterday, an incredible day,” he said in what was only his third formal solo news conference at the White House. “Last night the R party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House.”

Republicans expanded their control of the U.S. Senate, knocking off at least three Democratic incumbents on Tuesday, following a divisive campaign marked by fierce clashes over race and immigration.

But they lost their majority in the House, a setback for the president after a campaign that became a referendum on his combative leadership.

The divided power in Congress combined with Trump’s expansive view of executive power could herald even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock in Washington.

The Democrats will now head House committees that can investigate the president’s tax returns, possible business conflicts of interest and any links between his 2016 election campaign and Russia.

There may be some room, however, for Trump and Democrats to work together on issues with bipartisan support such as a package to improve infrastructure or protections against prescription drug price increases.

“It really could be a beautiful bipartisan situation,” Trump said.

He said Nancy Pelosi, who may be the next speaker of the House, had expressed to him in a phone call a desire to work together. But Trump doubted there would be much common ground if Democrats press investigations.

“You can’t do it simultaneously,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton, Patricia Zengerle, Amanda Bedcker and David Alexander in Washington and Megan Davies in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell and Steve Holland; Editing by Frances Kerry and Paul Simao)

Firepower for U.S. stocks may lose spark as Democrats gain clout

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. stock market may be facing the remainder of Donald Trump’s presidential term with the prospect of less juice to supercharge it.

Stock returns have been fueled the past year by Trump’s corporate tax cuts, which have pumped up profits. Yet, any hope of further fiscal stimulus in the form of more tax cuts faded with the results of Tuesday’s congressional elections, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives from Trump’s Republican party.

“The return to political gridlock in Washington will likely serve to temper growth expectations, or at least moderate the prospect of additional stimulative fiscal policy,” said Jon Hill, US Rates Strategist at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

The election comes as the market is also losing the low-rate monetary policy that has supported equities during its near decade-long bull run, as the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to stave off inflation.

Without both fiscal and monetary stimulus, Wall Street performance will depend even more on fundamental factors at a time investors are looking for signs pointing to when the long economic expansion will finally end.

“This is really not a stock market that needs more fiscal stimulus and I think in order for the bull market to continue what it really needs is strong earnings in the face of what is likely to be increasing interest rates,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Indeed, some investors may see a silver lining in the diminished prospects for more tax cuts, given concerns about the ballooning deficit and even higher interest rates.

“If the Republicans swept today, you would get more fiscal stimulus but that also would likely result in higher interest rates and the Fed moving potentially faster,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services in Atlanta. “So beyond the initial positive reaction, my sense is that there would be some offsets from higher interest rates.”

At the same time, the potential for some fiscal stimulus is still alive through an infrastructure spending package, an area where analysts say Trump and Democrats could find common ground and where an agreement could boost stocks, particularly shares in construction and materials companies.

HEADWINDS AHEAD

Tuesday’s result of a split Congress, with Republicans keeping control of the Senate, was the most likely scenario projected by polling data and prediction markets ahead of the elections and had been anticipated by investors.

Immediate market moves to the news may be misleading. Two years ago, stocks futures plunged when it became clear that Trump would win the presidency, only for them to reverse course within hours.

Stock market gains this year may indeed continue – stocks historically have climbed following midterm elections. For the two calendar years following each national U.S. election, the S&amp;P 500 had a mean annual increase of 12 percent under Republican-controlled governments, compared to an increase of 9 percent for Democratic-controlled governments and a 7 percent rise for gridlocked governments.

Yet replicating the lofty returns of Trump’s first half of his term – the stock market is up 29 percent since his election – may prove elusive.

Democratic control of the House makes the prospect of a new tax-cut package, following the recent steep cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate, appear less likely. Trump has been seeking a 10 percent middle-class tax cut while making permanent individual tax cuts from his 2017 tax overhaul.

The change in House control could bring other challenges for the market.

Trump’s favoring of light regulations for banks and other industries has created a climate that investors say has helped stocks. A Democratic-led House could bring greater oversight on industries such as pharmaceuticals and banks.

With fresh oversight power, Democrats could inspect nearly every aspect of Trump’s presidency from his long-elusive tax returns to possible business ties with Russia and conflicts of interest. In the event the House attempts to impeach Trump, history suggests market volatility could spike, at least in the short term, according to OppenheimerFunds.

But, on the positive side for stocks, analysts doubt Democrats would be able to roll back the heart of the market-friendly changes, including the corporate tax cuts.

The Democrats’ victory in the House could also benefit the market, some investors have said, by tempering Trump’s aims such as on international trade.

Any pressure on stocks could be less severe because the stock market already endured a steep pullback in October from record highs, which some investors in part attribute to jitters over uncertainty about the election.

And some investors will be happy just to move on from the elections.

“It’s one less thing that’s in front of you that you have to worry about,” said Walter Todd, chief investment officer at Greenwood Capital in Greenwood, South Carolina.

(Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Megan Davies and Frances Kerry)

Trump tastes election defeat but finds some wins at White House watch party

Sunset is seen over the White House, on the day of the U.S. midterm election, in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – By the time President Donald Trump and his team tucked into hamburgers and hot dogs at a White House election watch party on Tuesday night, he was ready for the bad news.

His closest aides tried to focus him on the positives.

Working on just a few hours’ sleep after a heavy final day of campaigning, Trump spent much of Tuesday on the phone, checking in with friends and advisers, talking to state and national Republican Party officials and White House aides to get a picture of what to expect.

What he heard from them was that Republicans would likely lose control of the House of Representatives but hang on to control of the Senate, adding seats to its majority there.

So when word came in that the projections were broadly correct, it did not come as a shock.

“It’s disappointing but it’s not surprising,” said Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway.

The House loss meant Trump will face investigations into his tax returns, his businesses and his administration by Democratic lawmakers. His legislative agenda, including a vague proposal for a middle-class income tax cut, is likely stalled.

At his watch party, Trump was upbeat. In his only public comment on Tuesday night, he tweeted: “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”

He followed up with a tweet on Wednesday morning taking credit for Republican wins.

“Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!,” Trump said.

In another message on Twitter, Trump said he had received congratulations “from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!” He did not name any countries.

BLAME FOR HOUSE SETBACKS

One Trump adviser said the president was probably not prepared for the onslaught of investigations that Democrats were likely to launch.

“I don’t think he fully comprehends what this means by giving the gavel to (Democratic House leader) Nancy Pelosi and her cronies,” the adviser said, asking to remain unidentified.

Some Trump advisers were already anonymously assigning blame for the expected loss of about 30 House seats, focusing on Corry Bliss, head of a political action committee that distributed money to House Republican candidates, and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.

There was also grousing about House Speaker Paul Ryan, who announced plans to resign at the end of the year instead of leaving sooner.

But there was some satisfaction among Trump and his aides that the losses were not as bad as had been projected by strategists who said a Democratic “blue wave” would take away 40 House seats.

The party that controls the White House usually loses seats in the first congressional midterm elections two years after a presidential victory. President Barack Obama’s Democrats lost 63 seats in 2010.

“Trump should be feeling good right now. They finished strong. They picked up seats in the Senate and they minimized the ‘blue wave’ in the House. These midterms are historically tough for a White House,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed.

Trump and his advisers felt that adding at least two seats to the Republicans’ Senate majority helped blunt the impact of the House outcome.

BURGERS AND BIG SCREENS

For Trump, the evening unfolded at a watch party in the White House residence, where the East Room and the State Dining Room were set up with large-screen TVs. Buffet tables were laden with some of Trump’s favorite foods.

The guest list included major donors Sheldon Adelson, Harold Hamm and Stephen Schwartzman, Cabinet members like Steven Mnuchin of Treasury and Kirstjen Nielsen of Homeland Security, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, top aides like Conway, his wife Melania and children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, and Vice President Mike Pence.

Cheers rang out among the guests when Republican victories were scored, particularly when Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded defeat in the Florida governor’s race.

Trump was described by aides as content in how he performed on the campaign trail, not prone to soul-searching, and believing his focus on illegal immigration – he warned of an “invasion” from a caravan of Central American migrants weaving through Mexico – had helped give his candidates a needed boost.

Trump held 30 get-out-the-vote rallies in the past two months, including 11 in the last six days across eight states, the last three on Monday when he returned to the White House about 3 a.m.

Aides said the president was delighted at the projected victories by Republican Senate candidates he had campaigned for, such as Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as Republican Brian Kemp’s victory in the Georgia governor’s race.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump’s agenda remained the same, and that he would be willing to work with Democrats on immigration, the opioid crisis and funding infrastructure projects.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Kieran Murray, Peter Cooney and Chizu Nomiyama)