After a hotly contested runoff race in Georgia for two Senate seats on Tuesday, both Democrat candidates emerged with narrow victories. The Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), becoming the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South. And, Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old head of a video production company who has never held public office, defeated Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia), who recently completed his first full term as senator. The victories by Democrats mean that the Senate will now hold a 50-50 split between parties, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tying vote in favor of Democrats.
Democratic majorities in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives will enable the party to use budget reconciliation to enact their priorities. That process enables lawmakers to write filibuster-proof legislation, as long as it has a budgetary impact and does not increase the deficit beyond the period covered by the annual budget blueprint, among other restrictions. The reconciliation process is the Congressional mechanism through which multiple landmark pieces of legislation have been passed in prior Congresses such as the Affordable Care Act and the Trump tax cuts. It could be expected that this process to be used at least once, if not twice, in the recently-convened 117th Congress. Additionally, as the tying vote holder in the Senate, Vice President Harris is expected to garner an enormous amount of influence over what comes to and passes the Senate Floor, making the policy objectives of the Biden Administration ever more imperative. Coronavirus relief, climate-change/energy, infrastructure, tax, social justice, and other prominent reform measures will all be strong candidates for the Biden Administration’s policy agenda and are likely to utilize said legislative budget reconciliation process in 2021.