Schumer and McConnell agree to organizing resolution for 50-50 Senate
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a deal Wednesday on a power-sharing agreement for governing the upper chamber.
The final agreement on the so-called organizing resolution for the evenly split Senate allows Democrats to take control of committees and comes after weeks of negotiation between the two leaders. The Senate approved the resolution later Wednesday.
“I am happy to report this morning that the leadership of both parties have finalized the organizing resolution for the Senate,” Schumer said, adding that approval of the resolution “means that committees can promptly set up and get to work.”
In a statement, McConnell said that the “power-sharing agreement is almost identical to the 2001 agreement and will allow the Senate to be fairly run as an evenly-split body.”
The lack of an organizing resolution had created an unusual situation in the Senate, where Republicans still technically held committee gavels and were overseeing the confirmation process for President Joe Biden’s nominees, even though Democrats hold the majority. It also meant that new members of the Senate had not yet received their committee assignments. Schumer announced new committee assignments for Democrats on Tuesday.
McConnell initially asked that Senate Democrats commit to protecting the legislative filibuster as part of the agreement, which Schumer rejected. McConnell dropped that demand after Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) publicly reiterated that they did not support eliminating the 60-vote threshold.
As part of their agreement, Schumer pledged that he would not limit amendments, unless they are “dilatory measures [that] prevent the Senate from taking action and leave no alternative.” McConnell, meanwhile, said that he would seek to avoid “lengthy debates” on procedural votes for legislation with significant bipartisan support.
In addition to the power-sharing agreement, Schumer announced that Sonceria “Ann” Berry will become Secretary of the Senate, starting March 1, replacing Julie Adams. Berry will be the first African-American and eighth woman to serve in the role. Replacing the Secretary of the Senate after winning the majority is not unusual for either party.
The new agreement will resemble the 2001 power sharing agreement between former Senate leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle. That pact also took weeks to negotiate. But unlike this year, the 2001 accord was reached before then-newly elected President George W. Bush officially took office and there was no change in party control of the chamber.
Senate Democrats did not win the majority until the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff races, when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both won Senate seats. Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaking vote for Democrats.