Divided Senate May Follow Bush Era Power-Sharing Arrangement
Democratic candidates won in the two U.S. Senate runoff elections that took place in Georgia last week. This outcome means that the 117th Congress will begin with an even 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding a tiebreaking vote following her inauguration.
Senate leadership may look to a power-sharing agreement established two decades ago as they begin negotiations over the chamber’s daily running and its committees. Soon-to-be majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that changes in how the Senate is run could not be made until Georgia certifies the electoral results, new senators are sworn in, and Harris presides over the Senate.
The new power dynamics in Congress will bring a shift in the anticipated legislative agenda. However, the Senate legislative filibuster still means that 60 votes are typically needed to pass legislation through the Senate. Several Democratic senators have signaled that they are not eager to do away with the filibuster rule, meaning that hyper-partisan proposals, such as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act are unlikely to be enacted into law. Other matters, such as Administrative nominations and the Congressional Review Act (CRA), will be much simpler to accomplish with a simple majority of Senate votes.
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