Chuck Schumer has spent more than a dozen years thinking about how Democrats might wield power if they controlled the US Senate.
The veteran New York lawmaker was first tasked with electing more Democrats to the upper house of Congress in 2005. His party won 14 seats over the next four years, giving Democrats control of the Senate and propelling his colleague, Senator from Nevada, Harry Reid, as Senate Majority Leader.
More than a decade later, Mr Schumer, 70, picked up the torch, after Democrats reclaimed the Senate by the smallest margin possible in two tight laps in Georgia. The 100-member chamber is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to vote for a decisive start.
This gives Mr Schumer a considerable task: he will have to strike a balance between the interests of his increasingly progressive party and the need to reach on the other side the Republicans grappling with the way of government in a post-era era. -Trump.
“He finally got the job he wanted for a long time,” said Jim Manley, longtime advisor to Mr. Reid. “But the problem is, he gets it under really difficult circumstances.”
Mr Schumer became majority leader last Wednesday, following the swearing-in of Ms Harris as vice-chair and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia as senators.
He did so at a time of unprecedented resentment, barely two weeks after the violent siege on Capitol Hill that many Democrats blamed on fellow Republicans, especially Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.
He still sees himself, in many ways, as an outsider trying to prove himself. He works very hard to outdo, strategize and outdo everyone
Mr Schumer’s first task was to work out a timeline for a Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for inciting insurgency from Capitol Hill – one that would allow time to confirm cabinet appointments Joe Biden and consider his ambitious proposals for an additional $ 1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief.
Mr Schumer announced Friday night that he had reached a deal with Mitch McConnell, his Republican counterpart, to have a trial begin on February 9.
But the two are still locked in difficult negotiations over an “organizational resolution,” or power-sharing deal, on how to run a middle-divided Senate. The upper house has only been so finely balanced once before, for a handful of months in 2001, and leaders must agree on how to divide up wanted committee assignments and structure important votes. .
Mr McConnell has said he will not sign any deal unless Mr Schumer agrees to preserve filibuster, an obscure rule that requires 60 senators to support legislation to become law. Progressives want the filibuster dropped so they can pursue more liberal policies such as statehood for the District of Columbia, while centrists like Mr. Biden and Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, said the convention should stay.
Mr Schumer faces a formidable opponent in Mr McConnell, a more experienced senator who has spent the past six years in the majority, first obstructing Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, then using his authority to uphold a record number of conservative judges.
“The Senate is not functioning at all right now,” said Mr Manley, who called the upper chamber “incredibly toxic”.
“It’ll be up to [Mr Schumer] to find a way to make it work so they can start focusing on the legislative agenda. ”
At a press conference last week, reporters asked Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat …
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