Senators on both sides of the aisle elected their leadership this morning, with Democrats attempting to reconfigure their party for the future after a blistering election and Republicans consolidating power in the aftermath of last week’s surprising results.
Saying he was “humbled and honored” by the position, and pointing out the diversity of the Democratic Senate class, Schumer said the party was ready to work with Trump but also “go toe-to-toe against the president-elect whenever our values or the progress we’ve made is under assault.”
In addition to Schumer’s election, Democrats re-elected Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois as the minority whip, the party’s number-two position in the Senate.
Trump wasn’t the only populist leader to have an effect on the new Democratic roster. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both heroes with progressive activists, received new positions within Democratic leadership.
Warren will be a vice chair of the conference and Sanders will serve as the chair of outreach. Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and challenged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination.
Sanders described his position as being responsible for “bringing millions of working people together, young people together, showing that government works for all of us.”
The former presidential hopeful will also keep his post as the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, an important role as President-elect Donald Trump seeks to make some changes to the government’s spending priorities.
The question of which senator will be the next chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which saw mostly disappointing results on Election Night, remained open.
“Stay tuned,” Schumer said when asked about the future of the DSCC.
That committee’s outgoing chair, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, joked with reporters about the apparent lack of interest in the position.
“Interestingly enough, they haven’t been flocking” to replace him, he said.
As for the GOP, it re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as majority leader, a position he has held since the party took back the majority in January 2015. He had served as Senate minority leader for eight years prior.
McConnell led Republican efforts in recent months to delay the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, a move that could pay off for the party after the presidential election of Republican Trump.
McConnell, who is popular among his colleagues, did not face serious opposition. In August, however, he contemplated the possibility ofrunning for the position of minority leader, calling the Republicans’ chances of retaining the Senate “very dicey.”
The rest of the Republican leadership positions were filled by incumbents, except for Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who became the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign wing of the Senate GOP conference.
Republicans held control of the Senate by a 51-48 margin last week, buoyed by Trump’s victory. A December runoff election in Louisiana will decide the final seat.
“We are eager to work with House Republicans and President-elect Trump to bring the national and economic security our nation is asking for,” McConnell said in a statement.
Separately, House Republicans held a closed-door vote Tuesday in which they re-nominated Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for speaker of the House. House Democrats delayed their vote until after the Thanksgiving holiday.