Balance of Power Shifts in Senate as Impeachment Trial Awaits

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As Senators return from their break on Jan. 19, 2021, major changes are on the docket – three new Congressmen to be seated and confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet. Now that the Senate is split 50-50, leadership will be shared between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Then, there is Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Warnock, Ossoff, and Padilla

Once their meeting begins, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia did not take their oath of office on January 3 when the rest of the Senate was as they did not win their runoff races three days later.

The third new Senator joins Congress as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ replacement — California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Padilla on Tuesday, January 18, after Harris resigned. His first day in Congress has yet to be announced.

New Balance of Power

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) entered Congress in 1985, was elected as a minority whip in 2004, was elected as the minority leader, and finally elected as majority leader in 2015. He has held that position for the past five years.

senateMinority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined Congress in 1999, and in 2017 he was elected as the minority leader.

Once Warnock and Ossoff have taken their oaths, the Senate composition will be 48 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two independents who vote with the Democrats.

The balance of power will shift. Both McConnell and Schumer will lead the Senate. They “will have to agree on a set of rules, known as an organizing resolution, which governs how the Senate works. The organizing resolution determines everything from committee membership and staff budgets, to who gets the best office space,” according to Time Magazine.

On January 20, Vice President Harris will lead the Senate — she will be the “tie-breaker in chief.”

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

TIME: What Really Happens When There’s a 50-50 Split in the Senate?
The Washington Post: When Exactly Do Democrats Take Control in Washington? By Laura Litvan, Laurence Arnold, and Steven T. Dennis
Science Magazine: Power shift in Senate could bring major changes in U.S. science and climate policy; by David Malakoff
Chicago Tribune: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla appointed to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in US Senate; by Kathleen Ronayne

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of John Brighenti’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Senate Democrats’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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