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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 05:44 GMT
US Democrats hail return to power
Democrat James Webb
James Webb is a former marine, whose son is serving in Iraq
The Democratic party is celebrating after being confirmed as the majority party in the US Senate as well as the House of Representatives.

The Senate victory was clinched when the final seat was declared in the state of Virginia, one of the tightest races in the mid-term elections.

The Republican incumbent, George Allen, acknowledged his defeat at the hands of his Democratic rival, Jim Webb.

The Democrats have spent more than a decade out of power on Capitol Hill.

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says there have been extraordinary scenes in the city, with Democratic leaders mobbed by well-wishers on the steps of the Capitol.

The loss of both houses of Congress is likely to make Mr Bush's last two years in office extremely difficult.

US SENATE
Graphic

The Senate victory will also give the Democrats key posts on powerful congressional committees, as well as more control over federal spending.

They will have the right to hold hearings and approve presidential appointments, including those to the Supreme Court.

The victory in Virginia leaves the Democrats and Republicans with 49 seats each in the Senate.

The remaining two seats are held by independent senators who say they will vote with the Democrats, giving the party a 51-49 majority.

In his acceptance speech in Virginia, Mr Webb called on President George W Bush to denounce what he described as the "unnecessarily brutal" tactics of the Republican campaign.

And he said too much power rested with the president. It was time, he said, to hand it back to Congress.

To massive cheers from gathered supporters, Mr Webb held up a pair of boots worn by his son, who is currently serving in Iraq.

In his speech, Mr Allen said he did not want to cause "more rancour" by seeking a recount which he did not think would alter the outcome.

Iraq war 'catastrophic'

Mr Bush has been holding talks with Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat set to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives.

The president said he expected politicians to rise above partisan differences and work together to help America achieve its goals in Iraq.

It certainly would be good if the administration of President Bush learned from this thumping that the American people have delivered to the Republican agenda
Lincoln Chafee
Defeated Republican Senate candidate for Rhode Island
He said that while he would not abandon his principles, he was open to "any ideas and suggestions".

Ms Pelosi has called for a change of strategy in Iraq, describing the current policy as a "catastrophic path".

Mr Bush has accepted the resignation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, key architect of US policy in Iraq, following the poll defeat.

And correspondents say the Democrat gains in the elections have all but killed off controversial conservative John Bolton's prospects of staying on as the US ambassador to the United Nations.

The victory in Virginia leaves the Democrats and Republicans with 49 seats each in the Senate.

The remaining two seats are held by independent senators who say they will vote with the Democrats, giving the party a 51-49 majority.

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