(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the leader of the Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress, appeared poised to become Senate majority leader based on the results of Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia.
In a statement, Schumer congratulated the Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, on their likely victories in their U.S. Senate races. Warnock has been called the winner of his race against incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler by most major media outlets, and Ossoff had a lead of more than 16,000 votes against the other incumbent Republican, David Perdue
If Warnock and Ossoff are sworn in, the Senate will have a 50-50 partisan split, making Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote. Schumer, who has served as Senate minority leader since 2017, is poised to succeed U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as majority leader.
Schumer’s ascent to leadership of the chamber would give Democrats control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, a trifecta they haven’t held since a two-year span after the 2008 election. It was during those two years of dominance in the executive and legislative branches that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was enacted.
“As Majority Leader, President-elect [Joe] Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will have a partner who is ready, willing and able to help achieve a forward-looking agenda and deliver help and bold change to the American people.”
Schumer was first elected to the Senate in 1998 after he defeated three-term incumbent Sen. Al D’Amato in the general election. Before that, he served nine terms in the U.S. House, from 1981 to 1999. He began his electoral career with three terms in the New York Assembly, from 1975 to 1980.
As majority leader, Schumer would have to shepherd a razor-thin majority to move through legislation that doesn’t enjoy bipartisan support. More centrist-leaning Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are likely to enjoy outsized influence in behind-the-scenes negotiations over legislation, since their support will be essential.
Despite that likely reality, Schumer sought to project an air of authority in his statement Wednesday. He hinted at a promise Biden made in the closing days of the Georgia campaigns that Congress would increase stimulus relief checks to taxpayers from $600 to $2,000 each if Warnock and Ossoff won.
“For too long, much-needed help has been stalled or diluted by a Republican-led Senate and President [Donald] Trump,” Schumer said. “That will change with a Democratic Senate, Democratic House, and a Democratic President.”