Charlotte Amalie 𑁋 After weeks of negotiations over power-sharing rules, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he had reached a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The agreement will set the rules for a new Democratic majority.
The so-called organizing resolution will govern how the Senate will conduct business with a 50-50 split in power between Democrats and Republicans.
“I am happy to report this morning that the leadership of both parties have finalized the organizing resolution for the Senate,” Schumer said. “We will pass the resolution through the Senate today, which means that committees can promptly set up and get to work.” Following two successful Senate runoff races in Georgia, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock unseated two Republican incumbents. Republicans still held committee gavels and were overseeing President Joe Biden’s nominees’ confirmation process, despite Democrats holding a new majority.
With the chamber evenly split between both parties, Vice President Kamala Harris–who also serves as the President of the Senate per the U.S. Constitution–will serve as the tiebreaking vote, favoring the Democrat’s agenda. Democrats are expected to use a budget reconciliation maneuver to pass Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Budget reconciliation allows the Senate to pass budget-related legislation by gaining a simple majority instead of the standard 60 vote threshold. After “cordial” weekend talks, Biden rejected several parts of a Republican-led coronavirus stimulus package, which floated a $600 billion alternative. “We want to make sure we get the poor,” Biden said, referring to direct stimulus payments, “but we can’t leave out the middle class.”
Biden said that the bipartisan proposal would leave out a significant portion of the American middle class and reassured Democrats on a leadership call that that prospect was a nonstarter. However, the president has also said that he is still open to negotiations for stimulus checks.