Three new Democratic senators were sworn into Congress on Wednesday afternoon, granting effective control to the Democratic Party over both chambers of Congress in addition to President Joe Biden’s new control over the executive branch.
The three senators — Alex Padilla (D-CA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) — were sworn in together by Vice President Kamala Harris around 5pm EST.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 20, 2021
Ossoff will be the only one of them to serve a full six-year term as the other two senators will be finishing out terms that expire in 2022. Warnock will be finishing out the term of former Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who retired in late 2019 for health reasons; Padilla was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) to finish Harris’ term.
Following the swearing in of the three new Democratic senators, Harris recognized Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the former minority leader for the Democrats in the Senate, as the Senate majority leader for the first time in the 117th Congress.
As the new Senate majority leader, Schumer gave a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday saying that the country had “turned the page to a new chapter in the history of our Democracy” with the inauguration of Biden and Harris, and he was “full of hope.”
Schumer, however, said the “hope we feel today” has been “tempered” by the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent attack at the Capitol building, and the atypical inauguration. “But, as President Biden said a few hours ago, today Democracy has prevailed, the will of the people was heeded, the peaceful transfer of power fulfilled. It takes a lot more than a band of hooligans to bring our grand Democracy down,” he said.
“Today, the threat to our Democracy from the presidency itself has ended, but the challenges we face as a nation remain,” said Schumer. “In the wake of violence and division, hatred and mistruth, in the shadow of disease and economic hardship, a warming planet, an unequal society, we begin the work of the 117th Congress.”
Schumer’s references appeared to be an implicit nod to Biden’s ten-day agenda, which White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain recently suggested will focus on: “the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.”
In a pre-Inauguration Day memo to senior staffers, Klain wrote: “In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world.”
Biden has since tweeted that he’s gotten “right to work” on addressing these four topics.
After taking the oath of office this afternoon, I got right to work taking action to:
– Control the pandemic
– Provide economic relief
– Tackle climate change
– Advance racial equity
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 20, 2021
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