WASHINGTON – Democrats on Wednesday formally took over the Senate after swearing in three new senators, giving the party the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade.
Georgia runoff winners Rafael Warnock and John Osoff officially became senators, defeating two Republicans. And California’s Alex Padilla was sworn in after being appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the vacant seat of Vice President Kamala Harris.
All three represent the historical first. Warnock is the first black Democratic senator to represent the southern state. Ossoff, 33, is the first Millennial elected to the Chamber. And Padilla is the first Latin senator from the diverse Golden State.
The three new senators split 50–50 between the two parties, allowing Harris to recognize the New York Democratic Sen. as the “Democratic leader” for the first time.
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s rule as majority leader came to an end after six years. The Kentucky Republican, who won re-election in a six-year term, takes the title of minority leader.
Harris then was sworn in at St. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., As Senate President Pro Tempore, a job held by the longest-serving member of the Chamber controlling party and third in line with the presidency.
It was also a landmark for Schumer, the first Jewish Senate majority leader.
“That I should be the leader of the new Senate majority is a terrible responsibility,” he said. “Today, I feel the full weight of that responsibility. A sense of reverence, of awe, of trust in me.”