Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new senators on Wednesday, officially handing Democrats control of the chamber for the first time since 2015, CNN reports.
Harris, who was sworn in herself just hours earlier, administered the oath to Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who won their run-off elections earlier this month. She also swore in California Sen. Alex Padilla, the former California secretary of state who was appointed to replace Harris by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Warnock is the first Black senator to represent Georgia, Ossoff is the first Jewish senator to represent the state, and Padilla is the first Latino senator to represent California.
Ossoff, at 33, is also the youngest member to serve in the chamber since 30-year-old Joe Biden was sworn in in 1973.
Democrats take control:
The three senators give Democrats 50 seats, but with Harris presiding as president of the Senate, they will control the majority during the congressional term.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Wednesday became the first New Yorker and the first Jewish lawmakers to serve as Senate majority leader.
Harris is expected to cast an unprecedented number of tie-breaking votes as a result of the split.
While Biden is focused on winning over Republicans in the spirit of bipartisanship, Democrats will need to keep all of their own members on board to pass any legislation.
“To my Republican colleagues, when and where we can, the Democratic majority will strive to make this important work bipartisan,” Schumer said. “The Senate works best when we work together. We have no choice, the challenges we face are great, the divisions in the country are real. We have no choice but to try to work together."
Democrats say they plan to address the pandemic and racial and economic inequality to start, as well as the climate crisis.
Schumer has said that the Senate will prioritize coronavirus relief. Biden has proposed a $1.9 billion package that includes $1,400 checks and raising the minimum wage to $15, among other relief measures.
Schumer said he also plans to prioritize vaccine development.
“We have an opportunity to work with our House colleagues and a new administration to defeat the virus, provide the relief the American people need, and reunite the country,” he said in a statement.
The Senate is also expected to quickly confirm many of Biden’s Cabinet appointments and is expected to soon conduct Trump’s impeachment trial.