House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, right, claps between her two grandsons on stage with House Democrats after speaking about Democratic wins in the House of Representatives in Washington. Picture: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
The Democrats have won the majority in the House of Representatives while the Republicans have held on to the majority in the Senate in the US midterm elections. This is a significant development since the Republicans held both Senate and House majorities after the last election and effectively splits power firmly down the middle.

The role of the Senate vs the House of Representatives

Congress, which is the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consists of two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate is the upper house and sits for a six-year term, which means that Senators can deliberate over long-term legislation and its effects . Two Senators represent each State, meaning that all States have equal representation regardless of their size. Conversely, the House of Representatives sits for a two-year term and its makeup is proportional - based on the population of each state.

While each house shares equal responsibility for lawmaking, the House of Representatives can  determine if impeachment charges can be brought against an official, and a simple majority vote approves or rejects the filing of such charges.   Any laws dealing with revenue must also originate in the House.

The Senate leader is considered to be the third most powerful person in the federal government after the president and the deputy president.

Video: Lubabalo Poswa/African News Agency (ANA)
President Donald Trump could find himself under severe pressure if the House of Representatives decides to initiate a new investigation into his finances or alleged Russian involvement in his presidential campaign.

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