In a virtual event last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Democrats would enjoy the power of the supermajority if they can win both Georgia Senate runoff races on January 5th. Though winning both races would only tie the Senate (giving Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote), Pelosi said that Democrats can use the reconciliation process to pass legislation, leaving Republicans out of the negotiations altogether.
In a Sojourner Truth Project Zoom meeting, Pelosi said that if Democrats can secure victory for Senate challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would have little power to block their agenda.
“One more thing, because you know how I’m about numbers, when we win these two seats, plus Kamala Harris breaking the tie, it’ll be like getting 60 votes because once we have even the simple majority, we can vote for reconciliation, which means that you only need 51 votes to pass certain legislation,” Pelosi said.
Reconciliation can be a powerful tool in the hands of the majority party, allowing them to pass spending and revenue bills without the usual requirement of 60 votes. The Republicans made good use of the maneuver on a couple of important occasions, including their passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Democrats could easily turn around and use reconciliation to pass bills that affect healthcare, spending, revenue, and the deficit.
It doesn’t work, however, if they don’t pick up both Senate races in Georgia, which is why it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for both parties. Polls show both races within the margin of error; according to FiveThirtyEight, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler is trailing her opponent, Warnock, by 0.9%. In the other race, Sen. David Perdue (R) is ahead of his challenger, Ossoff, by a mere 0.1%. Knowing what we do about the polls, it’s literally anyone’s ballgame. It’s all going to come down to which party can sufficiently motivate their voters to come out and put their candidates over the top.
According to Fox News, the race has already seen a near-record breaking number of ballots cast.
“More than 2 million Georgians have already voted in the state’s twin Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, where the Republican majority in the Senate is at stake,” Fox News reported. “The latest early voting numbers released Thursday morning by state officials indicate that more than a quarter (26.7%) of all registered voters in Georgia have already cast a ballot in the two contests. More than 1.3 million Georgians have cast a ballot through early in-person voting at polling stations that have been open for a week and a half, with more than 720,000 casting an absentee ballot.”
Like the presidential election in November, this one is undoubtedly going to come down to the wire. And once again, as Pelosi knows all too well, our country’s future is very much on the line.