ALL NEWS

Chuck Schumer becomes Majority Leader, as 3 new senators are sworn in, giving party control of White House, Congress

Jan 20, 2021, 3:05 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris talks with Vice President Mike Pence during the 59th Presidentia...

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris talks with Vice President Mike Pence during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president’s agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges.

Vice President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote.

“Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.”

Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term — drawing chuckles from the new vice president as she read aloud the official documentation.

Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation’s painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump.

The pandemic has claimed 400,000 American lives, and Biden is proposing a $1.9 trillion recovery package to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy struggling from the virus shutdowns. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm Biden’s Cabinet nominees as launches the new administration.

To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.”

“We can do great things, important things,” Biden said from the Capitol’s west front. “We can make America once again a leading force of good in the world.”

Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight.

McConnell is is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation.

It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda.

Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not agreed to any changes.

Instead, Schumer has proposed an organizing resolution modeled after a 2001 agreement reached between the two leaders the last time the chamber was evenly divided. It allowed equal representation on committees, shared resources for offices and other needs and made no mention of filibuster changes at all.

Talks have hit a stalemate, leaving Senate action uncertain.

Biden has said he wants Congress to press ahead on all fronts, confirming his nominees and considering his legislative priorities, but also holding the former president responsible during the impeachment trial.

That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial.

It will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election.

In his own final acts as majority leader, McConnell made a break with Trump, blaming the defeated president for having “provoked” the mob. But he also said Biden’s election was not a “referendum” on the new president’s agenda but a mixed result, even as he lost control of the Senate.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

President Joe Biden speaks following the news of the assassination attempt on former president Dona...

Emma Keddington

‘It’s time to cool it down,’ says Biden in the wake of campaign rally shooting

President Biden affirmed that America must never go down a road of violence in an address to the American people.

5 hours ago

A smokejumper parachuting to help contain the Speirs wildfire, which started Saturday night....

Emma Keddington

Speirs wildfire burning near Flaming Gorge, caused by lightning

A lightning strike ignited the Speirs wildfire Saturday night. The fire is currently 0% contained, but hasn't caused evacuations.

7 hours ago

An apartment fire on Redwood Road in West Valley City displaced around 30 people Sunday afternoon....

Emma Keddington

Apartment fire displaces around 30 people in West Valley

The fire happened on Redwood Road in West Valley City. The fire affected eight units and displaced 30 people.

8 hours ago

President Joe Biden addressed the country on Sunday, July 14 about heightened security measures fol...

Kennedy Camarena

President Joe Biden speaks after Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally shooting

President Biden addressed the nation Sunday at the White House, speaking about the shooting that occurred at Donald Trump's campaign rally.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Service a...

JULIE CARR SMYTH, JILL COLVIN, COLLEEN LONG, MICHAEL BALSAMO, ERIC TUCKER and MICHELLE L. PRICE Associated Press

Local officer encountered gunman just before he shot toward Trump at rally, sources tell AP

One local police officer climbed to the roof and encountered the shooter, who pointed his rifle at the officer, AP sources say.

9 hours ago

Audience members duck in the crowd during a shooting attempt at a campaign rally for Republican pre...

Kennedy Camarena

Name of man killed in Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally released

The Pennsylvania governor has released the name of the man who was killed in the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally on Saturday.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Chuck Schumer becomes Majority Leader, as 3 new senators are sworn in, giving party control of White House, Congress