Democrats officially seized control of the Senate when Vice President Kamala Harris sworn in three lawmakers, giving the party the first time in ten years not only the White House, but a fragile majority in both houses of Congress.
Democrats Rafael Warnock and John Ossoff of Georgia, as well as Alex Padilla of California, were sworn in in the Senate just hours after President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Warnock and Ossoff won the second round of elections on January 5, which split the Senate seats in half between Democrats and Republicans. Now, if there are 50 votes in favor and 50 votes in the voting, the casting vote will belong to Harris.
Padilla, who became the first Hispanic to represent California in the Senate, took over from Harris, which she vacated the day before taking office as vice president.
The arrival of these three Democrats gives Biden a minimal advantage in pursuing his political decisions, including a new wave of aid for the country hit by the coronavirus pandemic amid deep political divisions.
Due to changes in the Senate composition, Democrat Chuck Schumer became the leader of the majority, and Republican Mitch McConnell became the leader of the minority.
Schumer and McConnell are negotiating a possible power-sharing agreement that will govern the day-to-day work of the Senate, much like it did two decades ago.
Both are in favor of such an agreement, but McConnell has asked that the rules, which require a super-majority of 60 votes, be retained to advance most legislative initiatives.