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Democrats Win Control of House of Representatives

The opposition Democratic Party has won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, sending Republicans into the minority for the first time since 1994. VOA's Dan Robinson reports on results from Tuesdays mid-term elections, which will allow Democrats to set the agenda in that chamber of Congress, and a Democratic call for President Bush to work with them on a solution to the situation in Iraq.

Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives was ensured by victories in key races across the country, from Indiana and Ohio in the Midwest to Kentucky in the south, and Pennsylvania in the East.

Taking advantage of what public opinion polls say was dissatisfaction with President Bush and his handling of the situation in Iraq and such issues as corruption in Congress, Democratic Party candidates prevailed in the 15 seats needed to shift power in the House.

Republicans formerly had a 229 to 201 majority, and had been in control of the House for the last 12 years.

Democratic victories mean the House will likely be led for the first time by a woman, California lawmaker Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to be elected House Speaker when lawmakers return to Washington.

Appearing with other Democratic House and Senate leaders, Pelosi pledged that Democrats will work to change Republican economic policies she said had harmed many Americans, and she called on President Bush to work with Democrats to find a solution to the situation in Iraq:

"And so, we say to the president, Mr. President, we need a new direction in Iraq," said Nancy Pelosi.

The current Republican speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, told supporters in his home state of Illinois that he hoped Republicans would pick up more seats in races yet to be finalized:

"We have watched some of the House races, especially in the East," said Dennis Hastert. "It's kind of tough out there. But you know we got some opportunities in the West, and [there] may be some pickups [of more House seats] out there, and we're going to continue to watch that the rest of the night."

In Indiana, a Republican stronghold, Democrats swept three key races seen as an indicator of Democratic prospects nationally.

Exit polls, which sample public opinion after voting, reflected significant levels of pessimism and strong disapproval of the war in Iraq.

The polls indicate Americans were also driven by the issue of corruption scandals in Congress, an issue that plagued more Republicans, but also touched some Democratic members of Congress.

Among House results, a Democratic challenger won the Florida seat of former Republican Congressman Mark Foley, who resigned amid an investigation into sexually-explicit emails he allegedly sent to young congressional interns, a race Republican campaign leaders had predicted they would win.

With a majority in the House, Democrats will control the key committees that approve budgets and oversee government operations.

Among issues likely to receive more scrutiny are Bush administration use of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, military spending, energy policies and pushing through stronger reforms of congressional ethics.