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With historic wins, Democrats seize US Senate control

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Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi preside over a Joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol earlier in the day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 6. - Members of Congress returned to the House Chamber after being evacuated when protesters stormed the Capitol and disrupted a joint session to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. AFP

ATLANTA, United States (AFP) – Democrats seized control of the US Senate Wednesday with dramatic election wins in Georgia, slapping Donald Trump’s party with a crushing loss two weeks from the president’s exit and handing Joe Biden comprehensive power in Washington.

The Republican debacle in Georgia – sealed when Jon Ossoff was proclaimed the winner in the second of two Senate runoff races – came as Trump supporters furious about his election defeat launched a violent assault on the US Capitol, disrupting Congress’s session to affirm Biden’s victory and plunging Washington into chaos.

A defiant Trump, speaking to supporters at a street rally before the unrest, insisted that “we will never give up, we will never concede” defeat.

But by the end of his four-year term, Trump managed to lose the White House, the House of Representatives and now the Senate to Democrats.

The southern state that has leaned Republican for two decades has delivered a political stunner twice in two months: In November when Democrat Biden narrowly defeated Trump, then in the runoffs that ousted two sitting GOP senators loyal to Trump.

The narrow and historic victories by documentary producer Ossoff, who at 33 becomes the youngest US senator since Biden himself took office in 1973, and Reverend Raphael Warnock, the first African American ever to represent Georgia in the Senate, will end divided government in Washington and give Biden a golden opportunity to get his legislative agenda onto the floor.

Warnock, 51, defeated Kelly Loeffler, a 50-year-old businesswoman appointed to the Senate in December 2019, while Ossoff, who becomes Georgia’s first Jewish senator, bested the 71-year-old David Perdue.

Although the Senate will be split exactly 50-50, Democrats will hold the power advantage because incoming Vice President Kamala Harris will serve as the tie-breaking vote.

Ending GOP rule in the Senate has major implications for the Biden administration, particularly in view of the fact that Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered fierce resistance to former president Barack Obama’s agenda.

Biden notably will be far more likely to get his cabinet nominees confirmed in the Senate.

Equally important, Democrats will control what legislation makes it to the floor, and Biden has made clear his immediate priority is boosting relief for American families impacted by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s federal judges and any Supreme Court picks will also likely get stronger support in the chamber, with fewer roadblocks.

The Republican fingerpointing began immediately, with many acknowledging Trump directly hurt the chances of Loeffler and Perdue by questioning the integrity of the very election they sought to win.

“He depressed GOP turnout. Period,” tweeted Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County, Texas Republican Party. “Epic disaster for the GOP of incalculable damage.”

Trump launched a relentless and unseemly effort to overturn the presidential election results, and zeroed in on Georgia.

But his move backfired. Republican voters may have stayed home, refusing to participate in an election that their president insisted was a fraud, while independents and moderate Republicans may have grown frustrated with his anti-democratic antics and withdrawn their support.

 

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