Park Slope resident Chuck Schumer has declared himself the majority leader of the United States Senate following two elections in Georgia, which propelled the Democratic party to securing their 50th seat in the nation’s upper chamber.
Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff each officially won their Senate runoff elections on Wednesday, which brings the chamber to an even 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans. Under the rules laid out by the United States Constitution, the Vice President — who, come Jan. 20, will be Kamala Harris — can break the tie, giving Schumer’s party control.
First elected to the Senate in 1998, Schumer has been the Senate minority leader since 2017 while Republicans held a majority, and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has led the legislative body.
Now, when Joe Biden is sworn in as President later this month, Democrats will control the White House, along with majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time since 2010.
An elated Schumer took to Twitter after the Georgia election results were made official, saying only “Buckle up!”
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 6, 2021
The new-look legislative branch will surely allow for easier passage of future-President Biden’s agenda, including COVID-19 relief, aid for state and local governments, and climate change legislation, as well as confirmation of cabinet members and federal judges.
In New York, the changing power dynamics could help green-light several needed infrastructure upgrades — like the storm-resiliency sea wall off the coast of southern Brooklyn, fixes to the beleaguered Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the critical “Gateway” tunnel under the Hudson River, and the expansion of the Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed his fellow Park Sloper’s ascendancy to the Senate’s top job, and the prospect of relief for the city’s finances, during a press conference on Jan. 6.
“Brooklyn’s own, New York City’s own Chuck Schumer could not be better for this city and for this nation, and Chuck Schumer working, of course, with Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the Senate and allow us to finally get the support we need to fully recover and move forward as a city, as a nation,” Hizzoner said. “We got some great news there. It’s going to change everything.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the occasion to lament that the administration of President Donald Trump, along with the Republican-controlled legislature, had “abused” the state, and welcomed the return of Democratic control to the nation’s capital.
“Washington has abused New York State for four years, and that is not rhetorical,” Cuomo said. “This was a very, very big win for the Democratic Senate and it bodes well for the state of New York.”
Kings County Democratic Party boss Rodneyse Bichotte congratulated the Brooklynite on his new position in a statement on Jan. 7, speaking about his longtime involvement in New York’s Democratic politics.
“Senator Schumer has been a loud and strong voice for the people, from his roots representing Brooklyn in the Assembly, to his activism for Democrats across the nation in the Senate,” Bichotte said. “We are all cheering, knowing that the country will finally get the representation that we have been privileged to for more than four decades.”
News of Schumer’s elevation to the leadership of the majority was quickly overshadowed on Wednesday, however, by a violent mob that stormed the US Capitol Building during a legislative session where lawmakers were affirming the results of Biden’s victory in the 2020 national election — largely incited by Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in critical swing states.
Following an hours-long disruption, during which four people died, Senators and House reps reconvened and officially certified the election results in the early morning hours on Thursday.
Trump’s incitement of the riots, however, propelled many lawmakers — including Schumer — to call for the president’s immediate removal from office, just 13 days before his term officially expires.
What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by President Trump.
This president must not hold office one day longer.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 7, 2021
The soon-to-be majority leader added that the “quickest and most effective way” to remove Trump would be through a vote by his cabinet members under the 25th Amendment, but added, in spite of that, “Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump.”
Regardless of exactly when Trump’s presidency ends, Schumer will soon wield significant power over the nation’s lawmaking process.
Born in Midwood in 1950, the future-politician attended James Madison High School, before winning a seat in the New York State Assembly in 1974, and a US House seat in 1980 — where he served nine terms, before his election to the Senate.
“I am a proud product of Brooklyn, and it’s diversity, work ethic, tolerance, and sense of community is in my bones and forms the very foundation of all I do representing the people of New York in the Senate,” Schumer said in a statement.