Schumer and McConnell Finally Reach Deal to Give Democrats Control of the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a deal that will formally give Democrats control of the Senate and its committees, The Associated Press reports.

Schumer said Wednesday that he and McConnell agreed on the rules that will govern the makeup of committees and other details after a weekslong delay.

Though Vice President Kamala Harris is a tie-breaking vote and gives Democrats a majority in the chamber, the Senate is evenly divided 50-50.

The new Senate can now “get to work, with Democrats holding the gavels,” Schumer said.

Filibuster delay:

McConnell initially delayed a deal by refusing to agree to any framework that did not rule out eliminating the filibuster.

Schumer refused to commit to doing so, but centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema vowed to preserve the filibuster, clearing the way for a deal.

The agreement must still be approved by the full Senate.

Once Democrats assume committee chairs, they plan to speed up the confirmation process for President Joe Biden’s nominees, including Attorney General pick Merrick Garland, whose hearing was held up by outgoing Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham.

Democrats are also “ready to hit the ground running on the most important issues,” Schumer said.

Senate committees take leftward turn:

The new committee chairs are largely progressive senators, save for Manchin, who will head the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Sen. Bernie Sanders will take over the Budget Committee while fellow progressive Sherrod Brown will lead the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, another progressive Democrat, is set to take over the Finance Committee.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray will lead the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, fellow Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell will chair the Commerce Committee, and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin will head up the Judiciary Committee.


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