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Power Shift in US House & Feingold Defeat Could Influence Zimbabwe, Africa Policy

Some analysts noted that there has been a bipartisan consensus on Zimbabwe so continuity is likely there, foreign aid spending could come under pressure at a time the United States is struggling with record deficits

The power shift from Democrats to Republicans in the US House of Representatives and the defeat of Senator Russ Feingold, now outgoing chairman of the Africa subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations could augur a more skeptical and penny-pinching approach to foreign aid including to Africa, analysts say.

Feingold's long-held Wisconsin seat went to Republican newcomer Ron Johnson, the beneficiary of heavy conservative funding. Emira Woods, director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, said the Congress is losing a key champion for Africa who will not be easily replaced.

Feingold co-sponsored the Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2010, an amendment of the 2001 Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which gave the administration greater flexibility in working with international financial institutions to promote democratic change in Harare.

Analysts said there could be pressure for a tougher US line in Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe continues to dominate the national unity government though sharing power with the Movement for Democratic Change.

Policy analyst Marian Tupy of the libertarian Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that while there has been a bipartisan consensus on Zimbabwe so continuity is likely, there could be some pressure on foreign aid budgets at a time when the United States faces record deficits.