Democrats retained control of the Senate on Saturday, giving Republicans a tougher time to thwart President Joe Biden’s agenda over the next two years.
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election on Saturday, giving Democrats 50 seats to control the upper house, and Vice President Kamala Harris was allowed to vote for the tie.
Democrats could win another, however, if Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock retained his seat in the runoff against Republican rival Herschel Walker on December 6.
Meanwhile, on Sunday morning the fate of the Chamber was still in the air, and with it the legislative program. But the Senate result paves the way for Biden to further reshape the federal judiciary as he sees fit.
The Democrat-controlled Senate means presidential candidates to fill dozens of federal judges can be confirmed without the need for the backing of the Republicans. It will become even more important if there is a seat in the Supreme Court, which now has a conservative 6-3 majority.
It also means that Biden will avoid what former President Barack Obama faced in 2016, when then-Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to vote on Obama’s Supreme Court candidate Merrick Garland. Garland later became the US Attorney General under Biden’s administration.
The Senate confirmed 84 judges nominated by Biden, matching the pace of former president Donald Trump. These include Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman in the Supreme Court.
“Senate Democrats have committed to rebalancing the federal judiciary with professionally and personally diverse judges,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with NBC News on Saturday. “With the next two years of Senate Democratic majority, we will build on our historic pace of court confirmations and ensure that the federal jury better reflects America’s diversity.”
While Georgia’s second round of elections next month is no longer crucial for Democrats to control the Senate, expanding the majority of Democrats to 51-49 would give the party an additional edge in passing a few bills that they can push through with a simple majority.
Senate Democrats can also reject bills passed by a GOP-controlled House and set their own legislative agenda. However, the Democrats still lack the 60 Senate votes necessary to implement many kinds of major legislative change.
On Saturday, Biden said he was “looking forward to the next few years” with the Democrats and that the party was focusing on winning the 51st seat in the Senate as it would improve their standing on the committees.
“It’s always better with 51 because we’re in a situation where you don’t need to have an equal committee composition,” he told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he is attending the Southeast Association Summit. Asian Nations (ASEAN). “It’s just better. The bigger the numbers the better. “
Newsweek contacted Schumer’s office for comment.
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