U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer came into the 2022 midterm elections in a very precarious position. Republicans only needed to gain one Senate seat to retake control of the upper chamber, putting an end to his brief tenure as majority leader.

Instead, the New York lawmaker will continue leading the Senate following a historic political feat. Not only did every single Democratic incumbent senator win re-election — an accomplishment no party in power has achieved since the 1930s — but he will be a leader with one more member of his caucus, confirmed by Sen. Raphael Warnock's victory over Republican Herschel Walker in Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff election.

Warnock’s win and Democrat John Fetterman’s flipping of a Republican seat in Pennsylvania in November give Schumer’s Democrats an outright majority of 51 seats in the Senate for the second half of President Joe Biden’s first term.

Leading an outright majority will make several things easier for Schumer, who himself won re-election to a fifth term last month, than the delicate 50-50 Senate he has presided over for the last two years, even with Republicans narrowly taking the House of Representatives.

“The practical effects of the 51-seat majority — big, significant — gives us a reason we can breathe a sigh of relief,” Schumer said Wednesday morning. “Obviously, judges and nominees will be a lot easier to put on the bench. We are so proud of our record with judges."

Schumer said that it has been “amazing” how Republicans have been able to use the divided chamber to procedurally hold up judicial appointments nominated by President Biden.

“It's going to be a lot quicker, swifter and easier,” Schumer said.

Democrats will also take full control of Senate committees, ending a power-sharing agreement Schumer and Sen. Mitch McConnell made in January 2021.

“A number of times, [committee] chairs came to me and said I'd like to move this bill forward. But in a 10-10 committee, I can't do it. It'll be tied. That's all going to change because we'll have the advantage on every committee,” Schumer said. “It's going to mean that our committees will have greater oversight ability, subpoena power.”

Schumer also used the opportunity to say he will offer an olive branch to GOP members.

“One of the things I hope to do as leader is even in this new electoral climate is reached out to Republicans,” he said. “There are a good number of Republicans in the Senate and the House who are not MAGA Republicans and know that if the Republican Party follows the hard right and the extreme members in their caucuses, that they'll continue to lose ground as they've lost ground.”

Schumer was able to garner Republican votes on several major pieces of legislation, like the infrastructure investment bill, gun safety legislation and the CHIPS and Science Act, the latter of which has helped deliver massive technological manufacturing investments in his home state in the last few months.

Securing Democratic seats for full six-year terms in competitive states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona in 2022 was also crucial for Schumer as he looks ahead to a tough Senate map in 2024, with Democratic incumbents having to defend seats in three states won twice by Donald Trump — Ohio, Montana and West Virginia — as well as seats in states that have seen close contests in recent years, especially in a presidential year, like Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona.


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