Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), as well as appointed Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), took their oaths of office Wednesday, officially flipping control of the Senate to the Democrat Party.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was sworn into office alongside President Joe Biden earlier in the day, administered the oaths at the U.S. Capitol in the late afternoon to Warnock, Ossoff, and Padilla, effectively filling the Senate’s three empty seats and creating a 50–50 divide between Democrats and Republicans within the upper chamber. Harris, as Senate president, is now responsible for resolving any tied votes.
Ossoff posted a photo of himself and Warnock the morning of their swearing-in, writing, “Change has come to Georgia. Change is coming to America”:
Change has come to Georgia.
Change is coming to America. pic.twitter.com/m8CLAbkPPp
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) January 20, 2021
Warnock and Ossoff had both narrowly emerged as victors in Georgia’s contentious runoff elections earlier this month, each winning by a margin of about two percent or less out of 4.5 million votes cast. With the Senate majority at stake, the dual races shattered previous voter turnout and fundraising records and attracted many big-name surrogates from both parties to help campaign throughout the runoff duration.
On Tuesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the race results and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed off on the same, a process that ran more smoothly than in the presidential election, which endured two recounts and numerous investigations and lawsuits over claims of alleged voter fraud.
Ossoff, Georgia’s first Jewish senator, was sworn in on a book containing Hebrew scripture that he borrowed from the family of Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, according to a press release. Rothschild led Atlanta’s oldest Jewish congregation, The Temple, from 1946 to 1973, and was heavily involved in the civil rights movement.
Padilla, the former California secretary of state who was sworn in alongside the Georgia Democrats, was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to fill Harris’s vacant Senate seat.
Once the three oaths concluded, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) automatically became Senate majority leader, taking the reign from now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). With the upper chamber split, the two leaders are now in the process of developing a power-sharing agreement over how to organize the Senate and its committees.
Upon the change in leadership, McConnell wrote on social media, “I look forward to working together everywhere we can and differing respectfully when we must”:
Today, before the entire world, the greatest nation in history carried out another peaceful transfer of power.
Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris. I look forward to working together everywhere we can and differing respectfully when we must.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) January 20, 2021
Schumer, in his new capacity as Senate head, also put out a statement, listing some of his priorities including “racial justice” and “climate change.” Schumer wrote, “We’ll address the challenges our country faces with boldness and courage. Tackle the COVID crisis. Strive to make progress on the struggle for racial justice. And forcefully address climate change”:
With the new Democratic Senate Majority:
The Senate will do business differently
We'll address the challenges our country faces with boldness and courage
Tackle the COVID crisis
Strive to make progress on the struggle for racial justice
And forcefully address climate change
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 20, 2021
Schumer has also been outspoken about his desire to convict former President Donald Trump in a Senate impeachment trial of “incitement of insurrection” over the U.S. Capitol riot that took place January 6, as well as hold a vote to prevent Trump from holding future office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, must first deliver the impeachment article to the Senate for a trial to begin, and the speaker has not yet revealed when she plans to do this, which has left the timeline for the trial up in the air.
Write to Ashley Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.