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Democrats Take Majority of Senate

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Joint Congress session at the House floor - Democrats Take Majority of Senate -ss-Featured

For the first time since 2015, the Democrats officially secured majority control of the Senate on Wednesday. This gives President Biden a major boost as he seeks to push an ambitious legislative agenda through Congress.

The partisan flip was locked in after freshly-elected Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both of Georgia, were sworn in along with Sen. Alex Padilla of California a few hours after Biden’s own inauguration. The new senators were sworn in by newly-inaugurated Vice President Kamala Harris, whose seat Padilla was appointed to fill for the remaining two years of her term.

With Ossoff, Warnock, and Padilla onboard, there are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate.

The dead-heat balance translates into Democratic control, as Harris has the power to break ties in the upper chamber.

The breakdown also means Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is the Senate’s new majority leader, bumping Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from the coveted top spot.

With the House also under Democratic control, Biden embarks on his presidency with a major incentive to lobby lawmakers to enact his proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Beyond pandemic relief, Biden also plans to press for legislation to fight climate change, improve access to health care, and a slew of other issues.

Getting Right to Work

Schumer has pledged to get right to work.

The New York Democrat and his newfound Senate majority are eager to approve Biden’s COVID-19 relief blueprint, which would bankroll $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans, provide better benefits for the unemployed and earmark billions of dollars for a national coronavirus vaccine program, among other provisions.

Biden has also sent over a long list of cabinet nominees that the Senate plans to confirm in short order.

And then there’s the issue of former President Donald Trump.

Trump’s Impeachment Conviction in Senate Now Possible?

The House impeached Trump last week for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and the Senate must now put him on trial.

Though Trump’s obviously already out of office, the Senate could vote to bar him from ever holding public office again if it first convicts him in a trial of the impeachment charge passed up by the House.

Conviction requires support from two-thirds of the Senate. This means at least 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to ensure success.

Just a few weeks ago, the idea that even a couple of Republican senators would vote to convict Trump of an impeachment charge seemed all but impossible.

But Trump’s instigation of the Jan. 6 siege has flipped that reality on its head.

A growing number of Republican senators are now openly entertaining the idea of voting to convict Trump.

McConnell, once Trump’s most powerful ally in Congress, for the first time explicitly blamed Trump for the attack, which left a police officer and four other people dead.

A start date for the trial has yet to be set, but Schumer has said he hopes to wrap it up within the first few weeks of Biden’s presidency.

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Source: New York Daily News

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