What to expect as Democrats retain the Senate for the next two years

The 2022 midterms elections proved to be disappointing for Republicans as Democrats were able to hold onto their Senate majority even amid President Biden's record-low approval ratings.

Typically, the party for a first-term president does not do well in midterm elections. Moreover, polling and other data indicated that Democrats were behind in key Senate races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada. However, the party was able to win all of those races. Battleground state Georgia will go to a runoff election next month between Incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

The losses in the Senate for the GOP have promoted in-fighting as some Republicans look to blame Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Donald Trump. In the House, Republicans may barely gain a majority, and GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently won the party nomination for speaker of the House after defeating Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs.

As power struggles consume the GOP, Democrats are celebrating their historic win and are looking to pass key legislation before the 117th Congress ends in January. Current Senate Majority Chuck Schumer will likely hold his leadership position going into the new Congress.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will likely remain in leadership as Democrats held onto their majority in the 2022 midterm election.

This week, Schumer announced he plans to support a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify same-sex marriage into federal law. The bill currently only needs ten Republican votes in the Senate.

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"I want to be clear that passing this bill is not at all a theoretical exercise, but rather it is as real as it gets," Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. A procedural vote is set to occur on Wednesday, and Democrats believe they have enough votes from across the aisle to reach the 60 vote threshold to avoid a filibuster.

The group of bipartisan senators looking to codify same-sex marriage include Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Republican Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Rob Portman of Ohio.

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"We’ve crafted commonsense language that respects religious liberty and Americans’ diverse beliefs while upholding our view that marriage embodies the highest ideals of love, devotion, and family," said the bipartisan Senate group in a joint statement on Monday.

Even if the vote fails, which would be unlikely, Democrats would likely still have enough votes to move past the filibuster. The rush to codify same-sex marriage by Democrats before the new Congress convenes comes on the heels of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

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The Senate win for Democrats also has other benefits for the Biden administration for the next two years. The party will be able to confirm the president's judicial nominees as well as vote against bills passed by a likely Republican House and uphold Biden's legislative agenda.