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Capitol Correspondence - 02.09.21

Senate Reaches Power-Sharing Agreement

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As reported by Axios:

“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. [ANCOR note: this will also in theory unblock the nomination of Xavier Becerra for Secretary of Health and Human Services. His nomination had been stalled because of the power-sharing dispute.]

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.”