Democrats took control of the Senate for the first time since 2015, as Vice President Kamala Harris swore in her appointed successor, Alex Padilla, as well as Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who won their races in Georgia this month.
“I need to catch my breath, so much is happening,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who now is the new majority leader.
The Senate split is 50-50 now, but Democrats will have the edge because Harris has a tie-breaking vote. That might be needed, as President Joe Biden tries to usher through a series of legislative priorities, including a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package and immigration reform.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will be the president pro tem of the Senate, which is third in line for the presidency following the vice president and speaker of the House.
In his first official acts as president, Biden took a number of actions via executive order, including the reentrance of the United States in the Paris climate accords and a halt to the funding of the border wall. He also signed a mandate for wearing masks on federal property.
With Democratic control of Congress and the White House, there is some expectation that legislation will face legal challenges, as Donald Trump was able to appoint more than 200 judges to the federal bench, including three Supreme Court seats.
Schumer noted that he was the first New York-born majority leader in history and a “kid from Brooklyn, the son of an exterminator and a housewife and a descendant of victims of the Holocaust. That I should be the leader of this new Senate majority is an awesome responsibility.”
He said that the Senate would address problems “not with timid solutions but with boldness and with courage.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 20, 2021