Democrats take control of the Senate as Warnock, Ossoff, Padilla sworn in

Democrats take control of the Senate as Warnock, Ossoff, Padilla sworn in

January 23, 2021

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The Democrats on Wednesday regained control of the Senate for the first time in six years.

Newly inaugurated Vice President Kamala Harris, in her first official act in her constitutional role as president of the Senate, swore in Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — who defeated GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections.

And the vice president — who in advance of her inauguration stepped down from her Senate seat representing California on Monday — also swore in Alex Padilla, who was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to succeed Harris in the Senate.

Harris was given a standing ovation by her former colleagues in the Senate as she entered the chamber.

All three new senators are making history. Warnock, 51, and Ossoff, 33, become Georgia’s first Black and first Jewish senators. Padilla, 47, becomes California’s first Latino senator.

With Ossoff, Warnock and Padilla taking their oaths, the Senate is now split 50/50 between the Democrats and Republicans. But the Democrats will hold a razor-thin majority, as Harris now holds the tie-breaking vote.

After six years as Senate majority leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky reverts to minority leader. And Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who has served as minority leader the past four years, is now the chamber’s majority leader.

The last time the Senate was split 50/50 was for the first six months of 2001.

Power-sharing talks on Tuesday between Schumer and McConnell did not end in an agreement. The negotiations deal with how the Senate operates and how bills will advance with committees evenly split between the two parties.

One of the hang-ups appears to be McConnell’s push to preserve the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most bills.

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