Senate leaders reached an agreement on Wednesday to share power and formally organize membership of Senate committees, handing Democrats full control of the chamber nearly a month after they won a razor-thin majority.
“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 organizing resolution promptly today,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on the Senate floor.
The agreement will allow Democrats to take control of committees, which had been controlled by Republicans even though they lost the Senate majority last month.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last month demanded that Democrats pledge to preserve the filibuster, the chamber’s supermajority requirement for legislation, in the organizing resolution laying out procedures for how a Senate divided 50-50 will operate. Top Democrats refused and McConnell ultimately relented after two Democratic senators reiterated their support for the filibuster.
But the dispute over the organizing resolution, which requires at least 60 votes to advance, persisted for weeks after the dustup over the filibuster. The delay in reaching the agreement blocked one of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees from advancing quickly.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, complained that he was unable to schedule a hearing next week for Merrick Garland, who is nominated to lead the Department of Justice, over the objections of current chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Graham said Garland’s nomination required a two-day hearing, and the schedule did not allow time because of former President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial.