WASHINGTON (AP) — For Senate Democrats, a very slim majority, 51-49 It never looked so good.
Senator Raphael Warnock wins Georgia is giving Democrats a welcome “boost,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday at the Capitol, newly confident of sidelining Trump-inspired Republicans in Congress and reaching across the aisle to other GOP lawmakers to advance bipartisan priorities. President Joe Biden.
“If we can get some bipartisan things done, of course it will be better for the country. And it will be better for the Republican Party.”
Tuesday’s elections were for only one seatbut Warnock’s win in the narrow runoff provides an unexpected midterm culmination session for his party. It makes it easier for Senate Democrats to organize and govern, and provides a decisive advantage in a divided Congress with Republicans controlling the House.
Particularly intense political pressure was ended by a Senate 50-50 that required all Democrats to toe the line — and made it possible for one Senator, notably Joe Manchin, to buck party priorities.
When the new Congress convenes in January, the extra seat would give Senate Democrats a solid majority that provides greater control over not only floor votes, but also committees, which are the apathetic parts of the legislation.
And mostly gone are the days when Capitol Hill hung around waiting for Vice President Kamala Harris’ motorcade for her tie-breaking turn. – especially for Biden’s candidates – which she has had to do more often than any predecessor.
“Chuck Schumer’s job is going to get a lot easier,” said Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va.
After the longest evenly divided Senate in modern times, the new dynamic ensures the chamber will serve as a buffer to legislation from the Republican House with which Democrats disagree — and a potential bridge to a bipartisan deal while Republicans build up the post-Trump landscape.
While it still takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and bring most bills into the Senate, there would be ample grounds for compromise, especially if Republican leader Mitch McConnell is keen to show voters his party can deliver before the presidential election. and the 2024 congressional elections.
McConnell was silent on Wednesday about Warnock’s victory and the new political reality.
For starters in January, Democrats will have an easier time using their 51-49 majority on minor governance tasks, including voting for Biden’s judicial and executive nominees, which Republicans have used as weapons.
The same goes for committee work. Democrats will now have full power to send legislation to the Senate, overcoming Republican objections that could lengthen the process. They will also have subpoena power, which they plan to use to investigate corporate America.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat, had nice words for senior Republicans about what an evenly divided body he was.
“Chuck Grassley is a friend, we’ve been able to work together. And I’m confident we can do that again with Senator Graham,” Durbin said, referring to Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who will replace Grassley in the new Senate.
“But we’re in a better bargaining position,” Durbin said.
Key Republicans lamented Wednesday their failure to capture that vital 51st seat, blaming their losses on the party’s focus on reaffirming the 2020 election that Donald Trump, the former president, lost to Biden.
“That was a losing argument,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Republican No. 2, about the stolen election claims.
His party lost the Republican seat in Pennsylvania that was open due to retirement. Every Democratic incumbent won, an unexpected feat and the first party in power in decades.
As Republicans struggle to emerge from the midterms, Democrats intend to capitalize on Trump’s divisions in the GOP and win over some Republicans for bipartisan bills — the same way they did this session passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill, a computer chip package and more.
“There are a lot of Republicans in the Senate and House who are not MAGA,” Schumer said, referring to Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.
“I intend to reach out to them,” he said, “and see how the two can work in a bipartisan fashion.”
“You say, ‘Oh, that’s never going to happen,'” Schumer said, answering potential skeptics. “Well, look what happened this summer with 50-50.”
Schumer refused to outline the party’s agenda for the new term, saying it was still being implemented. The two parties are expected to hold their annual retreats at the beginning of the year to gather their priorities.
“It just gives us a boost — the fact that we got 51 votes,” Schumer said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an influential Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said the increased majority would make it “much easier to move forward in a progressive way.”
“Subtly charming student. Pop culture junkie. Creator. Amateur music specialist. Beer fanatic.”