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Control of the Senate, the next major issue for Biden

The President-elect of the United States will have to wage a new major political battle by January in order to regain control of the second chamber of Congress. A body that could block its ability to carry out ambitious reforms.

The President-elect of the United States will have to wage a new major political battle by January in order to regain control of the second chamber of Congress. A body that could block its ability to carry out ambitious reforms.

The presidential election was close and the conquest of the White House was not accompanied by a democratic wave. Control of the upper house of Congress will be played on January 5 in a double-by-election in the conservative state of Georgia. There are two seats at stake, which could shift the majority to the Democratic side in the Senate. However, no law can be adopted without the upper house, which also has the power to approve presidential appointments: its ministers, its ambassadors, and judges, in particular to the Supreme Court.

“And now we take Georgia, and we are changing the world!” Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Saturday to jubilant passers-by in New York after Joe Biden’s victory. Fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, vast economic aid plan, climate, immigration, diplomacy … The stakes are immense. The House of Representatives retained its Democratic majority.

With a divided Congress, “Biden will have to face reality,” said John Pitney, professor of political science at the University of California Claremont McKenna. “There are limits to what he can get.” The battle in Georgia will be close. Tuesday’s presidential ballot count is not complete, and Joe Biden only leads by a short head. This state has not voted for a Democratic candidate for the White House since 1992 but under the effect of an evolution of the electorate and an unprecedented effort to mobilize voters from minorities, Democrats start to dream to win those two seats.

They also count on the enthusiasm that could give the victory of Joe Biden. Republicans currently hold a majority in the Senate, with 53 out of 100 seats. Thirty-five seats were up for grabs in Tuesday’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The Democrats managed to reduce the Republican majority by one vote. If they snatched Georgia’s two seats, the two parties would end up with perfect equality. The Constitution then provides that Vice-President Kamala Harris can decide between the possible votes of 50 senators against 50.

If the Senate remained Republican, Joe Biden, elected from the upper house for 36 years, would have to use his talents for dialogue and negotiation. The president-elect should above all deal with Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, a feared master tactician. At 78, after a four-year alliance with Donald Trump, he would then appear as the strongman on the Republican side. Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell know each other well. In 2013, when the Democrat was the vice-president of Barack Obama, they worked for the adoption in extremis of a budget agreement.

Mitch McConnell, Republican Majority Leader in the US Senate.

Mitch McConnell, Republican Majority Leader in the US Senate.

Photo: AFP

“McConnell will act in McConnell’s best interests,” said John Pitney. “He’s not going to give Biden a pass just because of a friendship. McConnell doesn’t work like that. ” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, another great ally of Donald Trump, said this week that he would seek spheres of “compromise” with the 46th President of the United States. Joe Biden “deserves to have his cabinet. I will let him know who I could approve as Secretary of State, Minister of Justice, ”he told reporters. “There might be people I really can’t vote for if I think they aren’t qualified, or too extreme,” he added, putting limits on the nominations Joe Biden could make. .


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