The Democratic Party took control of the United States Senate on Wednesday for the first time in six years after Kamala Harris was inaugurated vice president and two new Democratic senators from Georgia were sworn in.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer became the Senate Majority Leader replacing Republican Mitch McConnell, which means that Schumer and his Democratic colleagues now have the power to set the Senate’s legislative agenda.
“As the majority changes in the Senate, the Senate will do business differently,” Schumer said in his first remarks to the Senate as majority leader.
“The Senate will address the challenges our country faces head-on and without delay, not with timid solutions but with boldness and with courage. The Senate will tackle the perils of the moment,” Schumer said.
Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock – were sworn in this afternoon by Vice President Kamala Harris, who was replaced by her Senate successor, Alex Padilla.
Now with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and the White House, Washington’s policy-making, legislative machinery will start to move.
“The Senate will tackle the perils of the moment,” Schumer said, listing the pandemic, economic recession, racial inequality, and climate change as Democrat’s top agenda items.
Democrats had long complained that under McConnell’s former leadership the Senate was a roadblock to legislation.
Now in the minority, McConnell struck an accommodating tone in remarks to the Senate on Biden’s inauguration day.
“I congratulate my friend from Delaware. I look forward to working with him as our new president, wherever possible,” McConnell said.
“Our country deserves for both sides, both parties to find common ground for the common good everywhere that we can, and disagree, respectfully, when we must,” McConnell said.
Schumer and McConnell are still negotiating a power-sharing agreement that will determine how the chamber will conduct its affairs with a 50-50 split.
Biden and the Democrats need to be careful about what legislation they seek to push through Congress in order to create an atmosphere of bipartisan cooperation, said Paul Beck, a professor of political science at Ohio State University.
“Biden knows the Senate. He is not somebody who is going to try to threaten or attack the Republicans. He really wants to get them to work with him,” Beck told Al Jazeera.