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Power sharing agreement stalled in U.S. Senate

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 4:11 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - With confirmation hearings and President Donald Trump’s looming impeachment trial, the Senate agenda is swelling, and Senate leaders are struggling to reach a power-sharing deal.

Talks are stalled between Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) over an agreement to determine the details of control in the evenly divided Senate.

With a slight edge from Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats have claimed the majority of the chamber. However, power-sharing details, such as committee and staffing distributions, still need to be ironed out.

“Mitch McConnell will not dictate to the Senate what we should do and how we should proceed,” said Sen. Schumer during a press conference Sunday.

Sen. McConnell is insisting that the arrangement protects the minority party and the filibuster, which requires a supermajority threshold to bring legislative measures to a vote.

“I cannot imagine the Democratic leader would rather hold up the power-sharing agreement than simply reaffirm that his side won’t be breaking this standing rule,” Sen. McConnell said during a floor speech last week.

A power-sharing agreement is not required by the constitution, but Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet says the agreement is imperative.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the Biden Administration and Congress to start to get stuff done, to deal with continued strife and deprivation of the pandemic,” he said.

Grumet references the year 2001 when the Senate was also evenly divided. Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Trent Lott (R-MS) reached an agreement shortly after the election cycle. McConnell and Schumer are likely using that arrangement as a template for the current discussions.

If leadership can’t come to terms, Grumet says Democrats and President Joe Biden will be prepared to proceed anyway.

“They are willing to use other tools to advance legislation with just 50 votes,” said Grumet.

It is unclear when additional power-sharing talks will take place.

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