Jan. 20 (UPI) — Vice President Kamala Harris returned to the Senate on Inauguration Day as she led the swearing-in of her replacement and the two newly elected Democratic senators from Georgia.
Democrats effectively took control of the Senate as Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state who was selected to fill Harris’ Senate seat, was sworn in along with the winners of Georgia’s Senate runoffs — John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
The new additions create a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate allowing Harris, a Democrat, to cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Ossoff, 33, became the youngest member of the chamber and the first Jewish person to serve Georgia in the Senate.
Warnock also became the first Black senator to represent Georgia and Padilla became the first Latino senator from California.
As a result of the shift, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will take over the role of Senate majority leader from Mitch McConnell, R-S.C.
After the new senators were sworn in a spokesman for Schumer said he and McConnell expect to reach an agreement similar to the one forged the last time the Senate had an equal split in 2001, which called for both parties to compromise on Senate schedule and appoint an equal number of senators from each party on committees.
“Leader Schumer expressed that the fairest, most reasonable and easiest path forward is to adopt the 2001 bipartisan agreement without extraneous changes from either side,” Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said.
McConnell has also indicated he would seek assurances that Democrats would uphold the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 senators to agree to end debate before proceeding to a final vote.
Among the first tasks presented to the new Senate is confirming Biden’s appointees for his Cabinet, although Schumer did not indicate how quickly that process would begin.
“Today’s Joe Biden’s day,” he said.