UNITED STATES

Georgia's Senate flip catapults US Democrats into rare position of power

US President-elect Joe Biden on 6 January, 2021, shortly before Congress confirmed his election win.
US President-elect Joe Biden on 6 January, 2021, shortly before Congress confirmed his election win. REUTERS - KEVIN LAMARQUE

When Joe Biden is sworn in as US president on 20 January, his Democratic Party will have a clean sweep of the White House, the House of Representatives and also the Senate – thanks to Thursday’s double runoff victory in Georgia’s upper house.

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Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock, 51, and Jon Ossoff, 33, will respectively become the southern state’s first black and Jewish senators. Ossoff will also become the youngest US senator in 40 years.

The flipping of Georgia’s Senate represents an historic upset in a former Confederate state that has traditionally voted Republican. It’s also a major blow for outgoing leader Donald Trump. 

Democrat control of the White House and both chambers of Congress is a feat the party has achieved only once before in the past four decades: when Barack Obama was elected in 2009. 

Their new majority clears the way for Biden to put his legislative agenda into action, especially flagship policies such as expanding healthcare and fighting climate change

Close contest

Georgia’s 5 January runoff took place after no candidate was able to secure more than 50 percent of the vote in the November polls – something required for victory under Georgian law.

The wins by Warnock and Ossoff were narrow but decisive.

Although the result leaves the Senate tied at 50 seats for both Republicans and Democrats, Kamala Harris will have the deciding vote when she is sworn in as vice president.

The shake-up means Republican Mitch McConnell, who vociferously condemned pro-Trump rioters who stormed the White House on Wednesday, will lose his seat as Senate majority leader.

McConnell said the mob’s “failed insurrection” had underscored the duty of lawmakers to confirm Joe Biden’s election win, which they finally did early Thursday. 

The US Senate is tied at 50 seats for both Republicans and Democrats, with Kamala Harris to have the deciding vote when she is sworn in as vice president.
The US Senate is tied at 50 seats for both Republicans and Democrats, with Kamala Harris to have the deciding vote when she is sworn in as vice president. © France Médias Monde

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