One difference between Schumer and the close-knit McConnell is that Schumer is in constant contact with his members and calls them constantly on his flip phone, which rang several times at the press conference on Wednesday. That won’t change, allies say, and Schumer took calls from Democrats all morning on Wednesday. Schumer said he spoke to Warnock and Ossoff from his Brooklyn home on Tuesday night while watching the elections.
But Democrats said they expected the Senate to look very different – and more active – than it was under McConnell, who prioritized judicial nominations and laws that he could pass by majority vote. The Kentucky Republican largely stayed away from major debates about immigration reforms or infrastructures that would require a Democratic buy-in to get the super-majority requirement required by most laws.
“I have a friend who you ask how he’s doing. He always says, ‘Compared to what?’ So compared to our current guide [Schumer] will be a big improvement, “said Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.). “He believes we should have the opportunity to debate bills and offer changes when they have their say. So that’s going to change. “
How far the party will go remains to be seen. Some are already calling for “a new era of bipartisanism in Washington” while others want Democrats to adopt ambitious progressive proposals – and Republicans to override if necessary.
“Democrats need to deliver,” Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) Said in a recent interview. “There are things we can do without the Democratic Senate. But we can do a lot more when we are in a Democratic Senate. “
Warren has teamed up with Schumer to urge Biden to use his executive powers to unilaterally terminate student loans, and Senate Democrats will consider doing the same on other issues as well. While the filibuster is unlikely to be killed, the party can pass important laws through a simple majority vote on the budget. Both Trump’s tax cuts and the Affordable Care Act were passed through this maneuver.
Number one priority will be Covid aid, and Schumer said the Senate will focus specifically on approving $ 2,000 stimulus checks that Ossoff and Warnock were fighting for. Schumer declined to say on Wednesday whether this would be a tightly coordinated bill like the House passed in December or the underpinning of a larger aid package.
But when he finds out his agenda and knows how to confirm Biden’s cabinet, Schumer will always think of the Senate card. In many ways, a Senate majority leader’s top priority is to remain the Senate majority leader, and 2022 is turning into an uphill battle for control of the Senate. Warnock will have a full term and a handful of swing states will see competitive races.
Some of Schumer’s members want his reign to turn a purple hue, even if the Democrats regain full control of Washington for the first time in a decade.
“We need people to work across the aisle,” said Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Who is also up for re-election. “Sometimes we see a lot of it, sometimes we don’t. For the future of our country, it’s important that Democrats and Republicans work together to solve these problems, regardless of who is responsible.”