U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday that Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock’s runoff election win was an important boost for Democrats.
“The practical effects of the 51-seat majority — it’s big. It’s significant,” he said. “We can breathe a sigh of relief.”
The Senate had stood for the past two years at a 50-50 tie with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. But with Warnock winning re-election to his first full six-year term in office, Democrats have now gained a seat and secured a clear majority for the rest of President Joe Biden’s first term in office.
“After a hard-fought campaign, or should I say campaigns? It is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken,” Warnock told supporters at a victory party late Tuesday.
In the November election, both Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker failed to secure a 50% majority of the vote required in Georgia to win, leading to the runoff. As of midday Wednesday, Warnock led Walker by a little under three percentage points with 95% of votes counted.
In a concession speech in front of his supporters Tuesday, Walker said, “I don’t want any of you to stop dreaming. I don’t want any of you to stop believing in America. I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and believe in our elected officials. Most of all, continue to pray for them.”
Walker was one of multiple Senate candidates nationwide who were endorsed by former President Donald Trump but who lost their elections. During the campaign, Walker faced allegations he had paid for abortions and engaged in domestic abuse. His campaign accused Warnock of unfairly evicting tenants from properties he owns. Warnock ultimately won out in the runoff that saw record voter turnout.
Schumer told reporters that voters sent a clear message about Republican priorities, particularly in the wake of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade, the court’s 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
“The public began to realize how far right these MAGA Republicans had gone. The Dobbs decision was the crystallization of that. Of course, when people said, ‘Wow, these MAGA Republicans are serious about turning the dial all the way back,” he said.
Dobbs vs. Jackson was the case that led to the Supreme Court ruling.
Schumer would not discuss priorities for the new Congress but did acknowledge the clear majority gives Democrats a significant advantage in bringing their legislation and nominees up for votes.
“It’s important to the committee structure — that was a shared committee responsibility,” Amy Dacey, executive director of the Stein Institute of Policy and Politics at American University, told VOA. “Now you’ll have clear chairs who drive the calendar, drive what issues will come up in front of the Senate.”
The U.S. Congress, however, will be divided when lawmakers are sworn in for a new session in January, with Republicans holding a slim majority in the House of Representatives.
Some information provided by Reuters.