Friday, January 22

‘Can’t lose a single vote’: can Biden navigate the Senate 50-50? | United States Senate

reThe emocrats may have claimed control of the Senate with two victories in Georgia, but their majority is slim and will herald an era in which each senator wields an inordinate amount of power over the vital upper house.

In other words, each senator will be the deciding vote in a situation that has occurred only a few times in the history of the House and is likely to prove a difficult challenge for incoming President Joe Biden, though preferable to dealing with Republicans. continuous. control.

That dynamic is a change with respect to recent years in which the control of the chamber has been more specifically with Republicans or Democrats. But the addition of incoming Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock from Georgia means the Senate will be split evenly 50-50, a split that has happened. only three times in American history.

Democrats control the chamber only through Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will act as the runoff vote when she is sworn in on January 20. His replacement in his California Senate seat, Alex Padilla, will join the House quickly after that, so Democratic control will begin on January 21.

The split means any senator can circumvent legislation making its way through the chamber by withholding a vote, possibly until further adjustments have been made.

“It only takes one senator to object and that doesn’t mean that you are going to have the power to ultimately stop something, but having control of how long something takes gives you enormous power,” said Joe Britton, a former Chief of Staff. Senate Democrat. “Especially at 1 pm on a Thursday afternoon.”

For Democrats, that’s the best result after disappointing results in a handful of Senate elections they had thought they would win in the November election. However, it does mean that two separate groups of “moderates” Republicans and Democrats will likely receive significant attention.

Looming over the house is the 2024 election, in which two senators, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, are set for reelection after just two years as they are completing the terms of their predecessors. Because they will have to run in conservatively leaning states early in their Senate careers, they are likely to steer clear of supporting very liberal legislation making its way through the House. Both are expected to be among the party’s more moderate wing alongside Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.

If any senator gained influence from the Senate’s uniform division, it is Manchin, the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus. Manchin offered a preview of how he planned to navigate the Senate.

“For the sake of the country we all love, we must commit to solving the serious problems facing our nation,” the West Virginia senator said in a statement Wednesday. “Above all, we must avoid the extreme and polarizing rhetoric that only further divides the American people. I will work tirelessly to make sure we do. It’s time for Americans to get closer. “

In addition to Warnock and Ossoff, incoming Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado called himself a moderate Democrat during his brief 2020 presidential campaign and his time as governor before that. The incoming Biden administration has also indicated plans to initially focus on a Covid relief bill and a large bipartisan infrastructure bill – not nothing for liberals, but proposals from a progressive wish list.

“You won’t see the [supreme] extended cut. He probably won’t see the end of legislative obstructionism and that sort of thing, ”said former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, who represented the moderate wing of the Democratic Party during his time in the Senate.

All legislation in the Senate, except reconciliation bills, which are intended to address tax and spending issues, are subject to a simple majority. So the question for most legislation is how many additional senators beyond 50 can a proposal get.

Defections and bipartisan support have become rare in Congress, and usually only a few senators are willing to openly discuss how to oppose their party. With his slight majority, incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York will still have to keep all or most of his group in line and win over some Republicans.

“I believe that Chuck Schumer has the ability to be the smartest legislative leader since [Lyndon Baines Johnson]Bayh added. “But even LBJ had more than a 50-50 division to work with, so if anyone can make it work, that’s Chuck. It’s going to be really difficult when you have the left pushing the envelope, but in a world where Republicans are unlikely to give you votes for what the left wants, you can’t lose a single vote. “

And then there are the upcoming presidential elections in 2024.

Senators and their staffs are preparing for the 2024 Republican presidential candidates in the House to try to position themselves to run in a large and unwieldy Republican primary. Democrats could also have a split primary race in the next presidential election cycle if Biden decides not to run, although Harris would be the big favorite in that scenario.

After Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri led a revolt against Biden’s certification of victory, it is unclear whether either of them will be able to position themselves as pioneers in a Republican primary. Both have been mentioned as possible candidates. The revolt resulted in a band of rioters storming the Capitol.

“You’re going to have all these people just doing poses and maneuvers and each one of them is a deal breaker or a Ted Cruz-style arsonist when Obama was president,” said a former Republican chief of staff. “And then all these little arsonists will ask ‘how can I make a name for myself?’ and there will be fewer Lindsey Grahams from the Obama era. There is no John McCains. Mitt Romney will try. There are going to be fewer of those guys. “

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