Credit: Dyana Wing So

Democrats control US Senate with historic Georgia runoff wins

Democrats will control the US Senate under Joe Biden’s presidency, advancing the Biden administration’s ability to pursue their legislative agenda in both houses.

Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff respectively defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the Georgia Senate runoffs on Wednesday.

Mr Warnock used his victory speech to acknowledge the social progress made since the time his mother used to “pick somebody else’s cotton”.

“The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” Mr Warnock said.

“I cannot tell you how honored I am that the people have decided to send me to the US Senate to represent their concerns at this defining moment in American history.”

Mr Warnock will be Georgia’s first Black US senator.

Mr Warnock will be joined by Jon Ossoff, the Jewish son of an Australian immigrant.

“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate,” Mr Ossoff said. 

“Thank you for the confidence and trust that you have placed in me.”

The Senate will be split 50-50 however Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaking vote, tipping the balance of power in favour of Democrats. Democrats control the House 222-211. 

This is the first Democratic Senate majority since 2014 and first Democratic control of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House since 2009.

These Democratic triumphs complete the stunning defeat of Republicans in the 2020 election cycle.

Why are these wins important?

President-elect Joe Biden looks to face far fewer blockages in Congress. 

Democratic control of Congress will open the door to legislative reform tackling climate change, racial and income inequality and push forward more emergency COVID-19 measures.

This may also mean larger fiscal stimulus packages will hit the US economy, feeding through to inflation and tighter monetary policy.

However this is subject to the filibuster and Democratic centrists such as Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Jon Tester from Montana.

Nevertheless, Georgia is a significant win for Democrats in a traditionally Republican southern state. 

The elections of Warnock and Ossoff symbolise a diversifying state, as a swell of Black voters and young voters pushed out the long-standing incumbent Republican senators.

According to AP VoteCast, Black voters cast 32 per cent of the ballots and voters under the age of 45, suburban voters, women, low-income voters and voters who had lived in Georgia for under 5 years also all threw their support behind Democrats.

Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff’s victories represent the changing identity of American politics.

Mr Warnock is a pastor for the same Atlanta church where Rev Martin Luther King Jr. preached. Mr Ossoff will be Georgia’s first Jewish senator and the Senate’s youngest member at 33 years of age.

This news comes as violent supporters of President Trump storm and vandalise Capitol Hill and President Trump continues to allege unfounded claims of election fraud.

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