Daily US Times: Usually it’s a president’s first midterm election that reorders a government’s political approach and priorities. For Joe Biden, his most defining congressional election is coming before he takes office.
Two Senate runoffs Tuesday in Georgia will decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress and, thus, how far the new president can reach legislatively on issues such as taxation, energy, pandemic, health care and the environment. For a politician who sold himself to Americans as a seasoned legislative broker and a uniter, the elections in Georgia will help determine whether he’s able to live up to his billing.
Jim Manley, once a top aide to former Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, said: “It’s not that you can’t get anything done in the minority or get everything done in the majority, but having the gavel, having that leadership control can be the difference in success or failure for an administration.”
Both Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff must win Tuesday to split the Senate 50-50. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would provide the tiebreaker needed to determine control.
To be sure, even a closely divided Democratic Senate would not give Joe Biden everything he wants. Senate rules still require 60 votes to advance most major legislation; for now, there are not enough Democrats willing to change that requirement. So, regardless of the results on Georgia, Biden will have to win over Republicans in a Senate where a bipartisan group of more centrist senators stand to see their stock rise.
A Democratic Senate still would clear an easier path for Joe Biden’s nominees to key posts, especially on the federal judiciary, and give his fellow party leaders control of committees and much of the floor action. Conversely, a Senate led by McConnell almost certainly would deny Biden major legislative victories, as it did late in President Obama’s tenure, by keeping his agenda from even getting up-or-down votes. So, Georgia is going to be the defining moment of Biden.
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