Schumer: Power-Sharing Agreement Reached, Democrats Can Take Control of Committees

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have finally reached an agreement on a power-sharing resolution.

The move allows Democrats to take control of committees, which they would have been locked out of without a deal.

“I am happy to report this morning that the leadership of both parties have finalized the organizing resolution for the Senate. We will pass the resolution through the Senate today, which means that committees can promptly set up and get to work with Democrats holding the gavels,” the New York Democrat said on the floor of the Senate.

Schumer added that he’s “confident our members are ready to hit the ground running on the most important issues facing our country.”

An agreement between the two Senate leaders is required to figure out how power would be divided as the upper chamber has a 50-50 split. Vice President Kamala Harris is able to break ties.

It’s unclear how soon any agreement could be passed because all 100 senators would have to agree on how to speed up a vote on the measure.

The agreement came after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)—still the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee—rejected a request from Democrats on Monday to schedule President Joe Biden’s attorney general nominee, Merrick Garland, who is expected to receive bipartisan support.

“When the Senate’s focus is required to consider whether to bar a former president from being reelected, other business must stop,” Graham wrote earlier this week. “Proceeding with the confirmation of an attorney general and the impeachment of a former president at the same time would give neither the attention required.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the incoming Judiciary Committee chairman, then asked Graham who was still chairman of the panel.

“They could set the hearing and unfortunately, I’m not officially the chairman of the committee. You know, we are in the majority, because of the vote with the vice president, so I had to contact the chairman from the previous Congress, Senator Graham, who’s to be succeeded by Senator Grassley, another Republican. It’s a very complicated situation,” Durbin told reporters.

And Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) said in a Tuesday hearing for Tom Vilsack, Biden’s pick to be Agriculture secretary, that his “committee has no official chairman at the moment.”

Last month, McConnell had sought to include language that would commit Democrats to preserve the 60-vote filibuster. He dropped the demand after Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) signaled they wouldn’t support such an initiative to pass major left-wing policies.