Feb 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer, McConnell reach power-sharing agreement in 50-50 Senate

Picture of Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer in Senate chamber

Photo: Olivier Douliery/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had finalized a power-sharing agreement, breaking a stalemate after weeks of negotiations.

Why it matters: The agreement will allow Senate Democrats to take control of committees, which play a pivotal role in crafting legislation and holding hearings. The Senate will formally pass the organizing resolution later on Wednesday.

Between the lines: Negotiations over the organizing resolution had been stalled for weeks, in part because McConnell wanted to include language that would commit Democrats to preserving the legislative filibuster.

  • McConnell dropped the demand last week after centrist Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) privately signaled that they would not support eliminating the 60-vote threshold in order to pass major legislation, which progressives have pushed for.
  • While the Senate is technically split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Vice President Kamala Harris would serve as the tie-breaker in a floor vote.

What to watch: Schumer said on the Senate floor that he had instructed incoming Democratic chairs of "all relevant committees" to begin holding hearings on the climate crisis, which will be a priority in President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda.

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