What Raphael Warnock’s runoff victory means for Democrats and the Senate
The incumbent Senator’s victory last night, Dec. 6, gave Democrats a 51-49 Senate majority over the GOP despite losing the House.
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On Tuesday, Dec. 6, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia's Senate runoff. Warnock’s victory was an imperative one for Democrats, as it secured them a narrow 51-49 majority over the GOP in the chamber.
As a result, there will be huge implications for Republicans, but even bigger advantages for Democrats as they will have the upper hand compared to the current 50-50 split. Prior to this win, there was a power-sharing agreement that gave Republicans superiority even while technically being in the minority.
But there is no doubt now that the tables have flipped in favor of Democrats, who lost the House in the 2022 midterm elections. But taking a majority of the Senate – while slim – is a huge gain for Democrats in trying to get certain legislation passed in the future.
Other than the governing power that Warnock’s win gives Democrats as a result of Tuesday night’s victory, it was also important for Warnock, party leadership, and donor groups to get a win because of the big money that was dished out during this particular election cycle and the subsequent runoff.
The race in Georgia was one of the more costly of this 2022 election cycle, with roughly $425 million being spent between both campaigns and outside support groups.
Overall, Warnock’s re-election in the Peach State gives Democrats Senate control and should make their lives easier in terms of trying to pass bills, committee control, and it takes away certain obstacles so that they can take on the business of the Senate.
Here is how Democrats will immediately benefit from Warnock’s victory and Dems Senate Control:
More power to issue subpoenas:
With Tuesday’s victory, Democrats will not need bipartisan support to issue subpoenas moving forward. This will allow them to go around any Republican objection and as a result, could lead to a bigger increase in the ability and perhaps number of investigations led by Democrats.
An painless process of filling any Supreme Court empty seat:
The 51-49 advantage will play a big role in the future if another seat on the Supreme Court were to become available, as simply a majority is required to confirm a justice.
Moderate Democrats will not have as much power over Democrats' agenda as they are used to:
The Democratic majority gives Majority Leader Chuck Schumer more wiggle room in regards to passing any legislation, no longer having the need to gain support from all members of his assembly in order to do so.
They also now will have majorities in each committee, giving them the ability to pass legislation and approve nominations at a faster rate without much hurdles:
Democrats will get larger staffs and budgets, an advantage over the GOP that as a result gives them more power and the overall capacity to conduct committee work. As of now, committees and resources are even at 50-50, which was not ideal for Democrats because it allowed the GOP to halt or slow the speed of nominees
Anytime there was a deadlock split in choice in the committee, Democrats had to jump through numerous and long-drawn-out hurdles just to be able to void that particular individual from the committee and allow a vote on the Senate floor.
No more power-sharing negotiations
Majority Leader Schumer will also no longer have to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a result of Warnock's Tuesday night victory.
The two back in 2020 agreed on a compromise to share power in the evenly-split Senate floor. This came after an impasse that halted the confirmation of President Joe Biden's cabinet, which at the time, McConnell asserted that Democrats keep a hold of the Senate filibuster that required 60 members to end a debate on the floor before moving to a vote.
McConnell would drop his assignment only after Arizona and West Virginia Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin refused to vote, which as a result left the majority leaders short of 51 votes required to kill the minority party protection.
The split-chamber would have immobilized without McConnell’s submission with Senate Dems powerless in regards to gaining full control even while being in the majority.
No more tiebreakers for V.P. Harris:
In the two years since the Biden-Harris Administration took over, the Vice President has been called upon many times for tie-breaking votes on Capitol Hill. Harris has done just that over 26 times with the current 50-50 Senate – the most by any vice president – and as a result of the Democrats taking control, the hope is she will not be relied on for such things anymore. The votes were generally regarding nominations and certain legislation.
"With 51, we can go bolder and quicker — to show Americans what Democrats stand for," said Schumer.
The only downside is that Republicans have a House majority and with it, are able to diminish Democrats' ability to pass major legislation as they would like. As a result, Democrats will probably look to confirm as many judges as they can before the 2024 elections.
It will be a tough couple years ahead for Democrats if they want to maintain such control. Many of their incumbent Senate Democrats will be up for reelection in states like West Virginia, and Ohio, all historically red states.