Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (R) and Jon Ossoff (L) clash their elbows during a “It’s Time to Vote” drive-in rally on December 28, 2020 in Stonecrest, Georgia.
Jessica McGowan | Getty Images
The Democrats took control of the Senate on Wednesday when three new party members were sworn in, adding to President Joe Biden’s ambitions in the White House.
The party now controls the presidency and both houses of Congress.
The Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff from Georgia and Alex Padilla from California took office and brought the Senate Party to 50:50. The newly inaugurated Vice President Kamala Harris, who will hold the decisive vote of the chamber, briefly presided over the chamber and swore by the three senators. She laughed when she read a note describing her own resignation and quipped, “That was very strange.”
The close Democratic majority will help Biden as he attempts to fill out his cabinet and pass an agenda set by a coronavirus aid package. Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats will decide what the Senate does, the challenge is to find Republican support for most laws to be passed.
“We have a long agenda and we have to do it together. … This will be an extremely busy and consistent time for the United States Senate,” said Schumer in his first speech as majority leader.
The New York Democrat said the Democratic Senate will “do business differently” and tackle coronavirus, systemic racism and climate change.
According to Schumer, Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky said. “I congratulate my friend from Delaware and look forward to working with him as our new president wherever possible.” He noted that the Democrats had a narrow majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives, which she interpreted as a signal that voters were not in favor of sweeping change.
Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Also temporarily became President of the Senate on Wednesday. The 80-year-old is now third in line to the president, following Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Warnock, 51, and Ossoff, 33, won special elections earlier this month that determined control of the Senate. You will become the first black and Jewish senators from Georgia.
Schumer noted that Warnock was born when two “staunch segregationists” represented Georgia in the Senate.
Padilla, 47, was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to occupy Harris’ Senate seat when she stepped down to become vice president. He becomes the first Latino Senator from California.
Ossoff posted photos of the elected Georgia senators at the president’s dedication ceremonies on Wednesday. He wrote with them: “Change has come to Georgia. Change is coming to America.”
Schumer and McConnell must agree on how the Senate’s business will be conducted in the coming weeks. You need a power-sharing agreement to decide how many members each party has on committees and how those boards resolve relationships.
McConnell’s office has said there is a deal he wants to make sure the Senate keeps the filibuster. Some Democrats have called for the tool to be removed so that bills can be passed by simple majority.
The Senate must also establish a structure for impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump. The House accused him of instigating a riot in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, but has not yet sent the impeachment article to the Senate.
Biden hopes the Senate can spend some of its time on the impeachment process while continuing to validate candidates for the executive branch.
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