Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell (R) on Wednesday announced the finalization of a “power-sharing agreement” that will guide the functioning of the 117th Congress.
“[This agreement] is almost identical to the 2001 agreement and will allow the Senate to be fairly run as an evenly-split body,” said McConnell.
The organizing resolution was approved unanimously just two weeks after Democrats cemented control of the Senate by winning two runoff elections in Georgia.
The deal will allow Senate committees to “get to work with Democrats holding the gavels,” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D), who recently swapped places with McConnell to become Majority Leader.
For the past two weeks, Democrats had controlled the Senate floor while Republicans led the committees. It was a strange situation, with Republicans overseeing the confirmation process for President Biden’s nominees and new members of the chamber unable to receive committee assignments.
Passage of the organizing resolution was delayed by McConnell, who sought to include protections for the 60-vote legislative filibuster. He finally relinquished his demands when a handful of establishment Democrats promised him they did not seek to eliminate the procedure.
Moving forward, the new agreement will restructure existing committees and allocate their budgets. As part of the deal, Schumer and McConnell have agreed to increase the number of amendments that get votes on the chamber floor.
“I am a strong supporter of the right of Senators to offer amendments, and commit to increase dramatically the number of member-initiated amendments in the 117th Congress,” promised Schumer. McConnell vowed to cut down on the “lengthy debates” that sometimes delay procedural votes for major legislation.
As it stands, the Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as tie-breaker when needed.