What we know about the next Senate and the balance of power now that Georgia's runoff is over

  • In Politics
  • 2022-12-09 10:00:14Z

WASHINGTON-President Joe Biden in January will get something he's wanted for two years - a Senate that doesn't hang on one vote.

When Sen. Raphael Warnock won the Georgia runoff, he secured his Senate seat for six years beginning in January and delivered Democrats another midterm win in a year when the party was expected to face stronger headwinds.

It's also a win for Biden, who will have an easier time getting his judicial nominations approved in a 51-49 Senate.

Biden has spent the first half of his presidency with a 50-50 Senate, which has given swing Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona the power to push through the president's agenda or upend it.

"Manchin is a good person, but he has different views, and he represents a different constituency than most of us do. Same with the senator from Arizona," Biden said at a fundraiser last week, according to press pool reports.

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This combination of photos shows Democratic Sen.
This combination of photos shows Democratic Sen.  

Warnock winning also puts Democrats in a better position in the next Senate election when the map will favor Republicans, former President Barack Obama said during a campaign stop last week.

Schumer, whose caucus held onto all incumbent seats and picked up Pennsylvania, was gleeful during a Wednesday morning press conference as he cheered the new 51-49 majority. .

"It's going to be a lot quicker, swifter and easier," Schumer said, noting that this year marks the first time since 1934 that each Senate incumbent of the party in power won their race.

That small majority will give Schumer majority control of Senate committees, which had been previously split, as well as an easier time confirming judges and subpoena power.

Georgia 2022 Senate runoff recap: Warnock wins election, boosting Democratic majority


'The people have spoken': Democratic Sen.  

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Warnock showed off his oratorical skills as a pastor and demonstrated why he will return to Capitol Hill as a rising star.

"I am Georgia," Warnock said. "I am an example and an iteration of its history, of its peril and promise, of the brutality and the possibilities. But because this is America, because we always have a path to make our country greater against unspeakable odds, here we stand together."

His win in a traditionally red state that is blurring to purple also means he'll have more clout in the Senate, delivering a victory for Democrats who won the upper chamber in November but will have more breathing room now in a 51-49 Senate.

Manchin and Sinema

Manchin and Sinema wielded enormous power in a 50-50 Senate, refusing to end a filibuster to pass Biden's priorities or enshrine abortion rights into law. They also were key votes in helping to pass major pieces of legislation, such as the infrastructure deal.

Both Manchin and Sinema are among the cadre of Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2024.

Though they will still hold some power in the Senate, Schumer will have enough wiggle room in a 51-49 chamber to weather the loss of their support occasionally.

Deeper look: Warnock win gives Democrats 51-seat Senate majority in 2022 midterms overtime battle

Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell

A Walker loss and 51-49 Senate weakens the political position of National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who led a failed effort to challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Though McConnell was on track to again lead the Republican conference before the Georgia runoff, Walker's loss all but assures it and further minimizes the bargaining position of Scott, who lost winnable seats in key battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Key points: 5 takeaways from the Georgia Senate runoff between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker

Walker and Trump

'Never stop dreaming': Herschel Walker speaks after defeat in Georgia Senate race  

Days after former President Donald Trump called for a termination of the Constitution, his chosen candidate Walker appeared to pivot from those remarks in his concession speech Tuesday night.

"I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and believe in our elected officials," Walker said.

His loss was the latest big defeat for Trump and a Republican party that underperformed in the midterms, which tend to go against the sitting president's party.

Republicans narrowly won the House and narrowly lost the Senate.

House v. Senate

When the next Congress takes office Jan. 3, it is unlikely any senator will be as powerful as Manchin and Sinema have been.

That power was neutralized in November when Republicans won the House.

Regardless of what leverage some senators may hold in the upper chamber, it can be largely canceled out by Republicans in the lower chamber, who are likely to block Democratic-led bills and try to make Biden appear ineffective heading into the 2024 election.

What the next Senate can accomplish

Despite the Georgia runoff results, a split Congress means both Democrats and Republicans will have trouble passing legislation in January.

Republicans control the House, and Democrats control the Senate and White House. If history serves as a guide, the next two years could be rife with partisan gridlock.

Senate Democrats will control which bills move through committees and reach the floor for a vote, but senators will have a tough time getting their agenda through the Republican-controlled House.

Even now, when Democrats control the House, Senate and White House, lawmakers are struggling to pass bills that will fund the federal government.

Just as Biden warned one senator could hold up his agenda, even a win in Georgia means there's still one chamber that could prevent him from accomplishing anything heading into 2024.

Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at cwoodall@usatoday.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What Warnock win in Georgia runoff means for Senate Dems and Biden


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