Harris Swears in Three New Democratic Senators Giving the Party Control of the Chamber

In one of her first official acts in office, Vice President Kamala Harris is swearing in three new Democratic senators, ending six years of Republican control of the upper chamber.

Hours after she made history as the first woman of color to be sworn in as vice president, Harris returned to the Capitol to swear in Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.)

Ossoff and Warnock won two run-off elections in Georgia on January 5. Padilla was appointed to fill Harris’ seat in the Senate.

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There will now be a 50-50 split in the Senate, with Harris able to cast the tie breaking vote, giving Democrats control of the chamber.

With the new balance of power, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will become the majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will become the new minority leader. 

However, Schumer and McConnell are reportedly discussing a complex power-sharing agreement that will determine how the chamber will operate with the 50-50 split.

Without an agreement, it would take all 100 senators to agree to advance legislation or nominations.

The Kentucky lawmaker has pressured Schumer to commit that he would leave in place the filibuster — a procedural hurdle commonly used to delay or block legislation.

While Democrats have a majority in both chambers, they only need a simple majority to pass legislation in the House. However, in the Senate, legislation usually requires a minimum of 60 votes.

Politico notes that committee members would likely be evenly divided among the two parties. Additionally, when it comes to legislation in committees, tied-votes would mean that legislation would advance to the Senate floor for a vote by all the senators.

And Democrats would have control of the Senate schedule and what legislation is taken up for a vote.