Democrats are going to control the Senate in January regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night’s runoff election between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker as a Democrat takes over the White House.
CBS News projects Warnock will retain his seat in the Senate, meaning Democrats will have a 51-49 majority — one seat more than they currently have. That one seat will make some difference to the party, even though they fall far short of the 60 votes needed to pass most legislation, as 60 votes are needed to end debate on measures being considered.
“After one year, 10 months and 17 days of the longest 50-50 Senate in history, 51 – a slim majority. It’s great. And we’re very happy about it,” said a gleeful Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday morning.
In January, at the 118th Congress, the composition of Senate committees will be determined by an organizing resolution, which the Senate needs to pass with each new Congress. Because of the narrow division there will be more Democrats than Republicans on the committees, possibly by only one member.
With more Democrats than Republicans on committees, it will be easier for Democrats to move presidential candidates, including judicial nominations, out of committee and onto the Senate floor. And that one-vote advantage will help them get approval more quickly.
With a majority on the committees, Democrats would also be able to issue subpoenas without Republican approval. In most committees, summonses may be issued by a majority vote in the committee or subcommittee. Summons are governed by committee rules, which still need to be approved. But the rules regarding summons are relatively standard.
The 51-49 Senate also means that Vice President Kamala Harris, herself a former senator and president of the Senate, will have less influence on the floor. Harris has taken pride in breaking more ties than nearly every other Vice President. He broke away from major votes includingAnd this Which provided financial assistance to individuals and companies during the pandemic.
— John Nolen contributed to this report.