The Implications of the Georgia Runoff

Adam Bear, Staff Writer

On January 6 and January 7, respectively, democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won the Georgia runoff election for the state’s congressional Senators. These wins, along with President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, mark a major shift in Georgia’s politics, which were previously dominated by Republicans for years. Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992.

Warnock and Ossoff’s wins also have implications for the national government; the Senate is now split 50-50 along party lines. However, the Democrats have the advantage. The Vice President, soon to be Democrat Kamala Harris, is the tiebreaker vote for the Senate. This ensures that the Senate majority leader will be a Democrat, and will most likely be Chuck Schumer, as he is the top Senate Democrat. Though the Democrats don’t have a 60 vote supermajority, a process called reconciliations allows them to pass bills related in some way to taxation and budgeting. This lack of a supermajority, however, does present the Democrats with some challenges.

Because Democrats won’t have a 60 vote supermajority, Republicans can use filibustering and unlimited debate to prevent the Democrats from passing legislation. To pass budget unrelated legislation, the Democrats must win over 10 Republican Senators while simultaneously stopping democratic Senators from defecting.

The last time the Senate was 50-50 was in 2001. At that time, Republicans and Democrats negotiated a power-sharing agreement, especially in regards to Senate committees. A similar agreement may be established after January 20.