On Jan. 6, voters in Georgia ended the two-month-long question of who would control the Senate, narrowly selecting Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to fill the remaining seats in Georgia’s runoff election. The final results leave the Senate split 50/50, with incoming Vice President Kamala Harris available as the body’s tiebreaking vote. While the decision gives Democrats control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, the razor-thin margin for the majority will likely control the political dynamics, says Billy Johnson, ISRI’s chief lobbyist.
“The moderates in both parties are now the most powerful people in the Senate,” Johnson says. “It’s the moderates in the middle who are going to cut the deals.” Specifically, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are all Senators to keep an eye on, Johnson says.
Expect legislative movement in the first two years and especially over the first 100 days, Johnson adds, while Democrats have control over both the executive and legislative branches. Because there is historical precedent for the House to flip to opposing party control in mid-term elections following elections that establish one-party control, Democratic members will be feeling pressure to move quickly, he says.
The Senate experienced a 50/50 split one other time in recent history in the first half of 2001, when Vice President Dick Cheney had the tiebreaking vote. At that time, Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) struck a power-sharing deal and evenly divided the committees. “Whether [Sens. Schumer and McConnell] will do that bipartisan procedure in the Senate is a bit unknown,” Johnson says.
Key policy priorities Congress may look to tackle that are likely to affect the recycling industry include infrastructure, climate, and environmental justice, Johnson says. (Keep an eye out for an upcoming article that dives more deeply into the potential benefits and challenges of these priorities for recyclers as part of our series on the new administration and Congress.)
Billy Johnson will be going into greater depth on the political landscape in Recyclers’ Outlook for a New Administration and Congress, a webinar ISRI will host Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar will be free for ISRI members.