Historic day as Democrats take over U.S. Senate
The Democratic Party of U.S. President-elect, Joe Biden is on the verge of taking control of the Senate, 11 years after, as results come in from two elections in Georgia.
Raphael Warnock, a pastor from Atlanta, was projected to have won one of the seats. The other is on a knife-edge.
Once the Democrats win both houses of Congress, Biden will have a much better chance of pushing through his legislative agenda.
The election is being rerun because of Georgia’s rule that a candidate must take 50 per cent of the vote to win.
None of the candidates in November’s general election met the threshold.
With 98 per cent of votes counted, U.S. TV networks and the Associated Press news agency called the first of the two races for Mr. Warnock.
Control of the Senate in the first two years of Biden’s term would be determined by the outcome of the second run-off.
Warnock is set to become the first black senator for the state of Georgia, a slavery state in the U.S. civil war and the 11th black senator in U.S. history.
Claiming victory, he paid tribute to his mother, Verlene, who as a teenager, worked as a farm labourer.
Although the Democrats would need to take both seats to gain full control of Congress, the Republican party of outgoing President Donald Trump only needs to win one to retain the Senate.
The margins are tight, but Warnock was forecast to have won his race by 50.6 per cent to 49.4 per cent for Kelly Loeffler.
While Warnock’s win was a major gain for his party, being the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Georgia since 2000, both political parties remained on edge over the unresolved Ossoff-Perdue race and its implications for the next two years in American politics.
Whichever party wins the contest would control the Senate, with Republicans counting on Perdue to prevail to constrain Biden’s policy ambitions.
MEANWHILE, Pro-Donald Trump protesters, upset at the outcome of the presidential election, stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday, as Congress met to tally the electoral votes that certify Biden’s election as president-elect.
They overwhelmed the police officers stationed outside the building, breaching security to gain entrance and creating chaos in the process.
The development forced lawmakers to flee to safety.
However, Edison Research, which supplies election results to news organizations, including the BBC, projects Democrat Jon Ossoff has won the other seat by 50.2 per cent, defeating Republican Senator David Perdue with 49.8 per cent.
More than 98 per cent of ballots from Georgia’s 159 counties have now been counted. The remaining votes come from the Atlanta suburbs, which are projected to go heavily for the Democrats.
More than three million voters, about 40 per cent of those registered in Georgia voted before Tuesday. Early voting benefited Biden in November’s White House election.
The last time this occurred in the history of the U.S. was the 110th Congress, between January 3, 2007, and January 3, 2009, during the last two years of the second term of President George W. Bush. It was composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The apportionment of seats in the House was based on the 2000 U.S. census.
The Democratic Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995. Although the Democrats held fewer than 50 Senate seats, they had an operational majority because the two independent senators caucused with the Democrats for organisational purposes.
For two years, the Republican-controlled Senate bottled up virtually every piece of legislation coming out of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. With a Georgia victory, that blockage would be removed.
Another benefit Biden could enjoy from having his party control both chambers of Congress is that Republican investigatory powers will be greatly diminished. With Democrats in charge of Senate committees, embarrassing and potentially explosive investigations are unlikely to materialise.
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