Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is on track to keep his job as Democrats are projected to retain control of the U.S. Senate, says he thinks the results of the midterm elections will force Republicans to be more bipartisan in the 118th Congress.
Democrats have held enough seats to maintain their majority, with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote, according to projections. The battle for the Senate was settled after incumbent Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) fought off Republican challengers.
The final tally in the Senate, currently 50–49, remains unclear due to next month’s Georgia runoff.
Meanwhile, the battle for a majority in the House remains contested as counting continued in some close races, although Republicans are still expected to win control of that chamber.
Still, Schumer is expressing confidence that Republicans during the 118th Congress will be forced to work with Democrats more than they did during the current cycle.
During the 117th Congress, Democrats were able to generate enough Republican support for a series of legislative victories: a controversial gun control measure led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a package increasing Veterans’ Affairs benefits, the so-called CHIPS bill that increases U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, and others.
The Senate procedurally is the biggest hurdle to final passage of any legislative proposal. Aside from bills passed under the reconciliation process, all Senate legislation must overcome a 60-vote threshold to end debate and send a bill to the floor for approval by a simple majority. Because of this rule, House bills from both parties have in the past failed in the Senate.
“I try to do things in a bipartisan way,” Schumer said during a Nov. 14 appearance on CNN.
While there were bipartisan victories, a great many more of the Democrats’ priorities ran into Republican opposition. CNN’s Don Lemon pressed Schumer to explain why he thinks things would be different in the 118th Congress.
“Sir, I understand what you’re saying—you have had lots of success—but I’m wondering … what is going to be different this time with the MAGA Republicans, because you’ve said that before, ‘Please work with us,'” Lemon said. “Why is it different this time?”
“It’s different this time because they lost,” Schumer replied.
“They all expected to win. The ‘red wave’ proved to be a ‘red mirage.'”
Schumer suggested that one of the reasons, “if not the main reason,” was what he portrayed as radicalism by Republicans close to President Donald Trump—whom he referred to as MAGA Republicans.
“One—if not the main reason—but one of the main reasons for sure was that average American folks—even those in the middle, even those that tended to be Republican—said, ‘I’m afraid of this MAGA. They’re trying to ruin our democracy,'” he said.
“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the results … the MAGA Republican way didn’t work,” he added. “The MAGA Republican candidates across the board … lost.
“If you’re a good leader of the Republican Party, you say, ‘Continuing to follow them is a path to disaster.'”
Schumer’s comments come as the Republican Party officials and lawmakers remain conflicted over what the results say about Trump’s continued effect on the party.
Critics of the former president have portrayed the midterm results as a rejection of Trump, and some Republicans have already placed blame for the worse-than-expected performance on the former president. This is particularly true of the Senate, where Trump appears to be less popular with Republican members than in the House.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), one of a handful of Republicans who voted to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial after the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol, said that Trump was “the past” and American voters “want a future.”
“Those that were most closely aligned with the past, those are the ones that under-performed,” he said, citing significant underperformance by several Trump-endorsed candidates in House and Senate races.
“We, as a party, need to have a debate about ideas,” Cassidy said. “In that debate, we need to explain to the American people exactly where we think our country should go. By the way, since I think using market forces to make the individuals’ lives more free, more prosperous, is the way to go, I think we win that debate.”
Rep.-elect Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who successfully defeated Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), echoed these sentiments.
“Moving in a different direction as we move forward is a good thing,” Lawler said.
Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who didn’t pursue a second term under reelected Gov. Brian Kemp, also painted the results as a reflection on the former president.
“This is a time that Donald Trump is no doubt in the rearview mirror and it’s time to move on with the party,” said Duncan, who some have highlighted as potentially prepping for a presidential run in 2024.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was more ambiguous in his comments about Trump.
Asked by CBS’s Margaret Brennan if Trump should remain the leader of the GOP, Cotton was ambivalent.
“Well, Margaret, when the party—when any party is out of power, as Republicans are now, we don’t have a single leader,” Cotton said.
“The former president is obviously very popular with many of our voters.”
Schumer’s comments come as the battle for the House, where Trump is much more popular, remains unclear. Republicans have currently secured 212 seats to Democrats’ 204; the House majority requires 218 seats.
At least some legislative work would require cooperation between Schumer and a Republican speaker of the House.
While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) may be the most likely pick to be speaker, it’s far from a foregone conclusion. Challengers might include Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and others.
From The Epoch Times