Senate members elected their respective majority and minority leaders Wednesday, as Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell will stay on to lead the Republican caucus and New York’s Chuck Schumer takes over Harry Reid’s role as top Democrat.
Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin was reelected minority whip and Washington state’s Patty Murray as assistant leader. Vermont’s Patrick Leahy will lead Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee as Diane Feinstein of California moves over to the Judiciary Committee.
The Senate’s lame-duck session opened with McConnell declaring: “We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first.”
Sen. Schumer takes the reigns as minority leader from retiring Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, who is retiring in January after three decades in Congress’ upper chamber. On Wednesday, Schumer said that after losing the Nov. 8 election, Democrats “can’t flinch,” and will oppose President-elect Trump on issues where the two parties disagree.
Republicans are expected to hold 52 seats in the Senate at the start of the 115th Congress in January, as Louisiana GOP candidate John Kennedy is expected to beat Democrat Foster Campbell in a Dec. 10 run-off election.
Formerly an independent who caucused with Senate Democrats, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders has now officially come on board with party after Schumer’s unanimous election.
There’s nobody I know better prepared and more capable of leading our caucus than @SenSchumer.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 16, 2016
[AP] [The Times Picayune] [CNN] [Photo courtesy AP via Politico]