New York Times, “U.S. Senate Election Results: Democrats Win”
Does the Georgia runoff election for the last remaining US Senate seat matter? Considering that Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto’s recent win in Nevada means that the Democrats control 50 seats in the US Senate again, it’s a fair question to ask. The short answer is: Yes it does! There are real, substantive reasons why the Democrats will have more power in the US Senate if Senator Raphael Warnock is re-elected and they have 51 Senators instead of 50. Let me explain!
For the past two years in the 50-50 US Senate (with the seats split evenly between Democrats and Republicans), the Senate committees have been chaired by Democrats because of the tie-breaking Vice Presidential vote. But the equal power-sharing agreement required these Senate committees to have equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, which has made it much more difficult for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats to choose which legislation is advanced to the floor. This power-sharing arrangement is also one of the biggest reasons why the January 6th investigations have only occurred in the US House, because Senate Democrats cannot issue subpoenas without Republican support.
Here is where that 51st seat makes a big difference! A 51-49 Senate controlled by the Democrats will have much more control over the legislation that is brought to a vote because they will have majority representation on every committee. Democratic Senators will also be able to continue the work of the January 6th investigation, which could be an especially important counterbalance if the Republicans use their control of the House over the next two years to investigate President Biden and his family.
Profile pictures of US Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from Ballotpedia
Another important reason why a 51st seat matters: a 51-49 Senate allows Democrats to preserve progressive legislation while also protecting their more conservative members. Many progressives in the party complain about the power that conservative Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have over the shape of final legislation, because Democrats need both of their votes to achieve a majority. There are two points to consider in this conundrum. First, 51 a 51-49 Democratic Senate will reduce their power because Democrats can lose a vote and still have a majority. Second, this leeway could be very helpful to these Senators’ re-election chances. Senators Manchin and Sinema are both up for re-election in 2024, in deeply red West Virginia and purple Arizona respectively, so being able to occasionally “vote against” the president or their party could be a useful strategy for them to win reelection, which, keep in mind, helps the Democrats maintain their control of the Senate overall.
So besides the fact that Reverend Raphael Warnock is an amazing human being, these are several important reasons to work hard for his reelection! Having 51 seats in the US Senate is actually better than having 50!
Check out our recent Swing Blue Alliance Roundup on the Georgia Runoff to learn more about how you can help re-elect Senator Raphael Warnock on December 6 and give Democrats an important 51-49 majority in the US Senate.
Video originally published by Swing Blue Alliance, YouTube