‘I can’t wait to get to work’: Warnock celebrates as Dems near Senate majorityJanuary 6, 2021
Georgia’s Democratic candidates for Senate celebrated on Wednesday putting their party on the precipice of controlling both houses of Congress, a shift that would have monumental implications for the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Rev. Raphael Warnock, Georgia’s newest senator-elect, said he was was excited to soon begin work on Capitol Hill, while Jon Ossoff, the Democrat in Georgia’s other Senate contest, claimed victory in a morning speech — even though his race remained too close to call.
“I can’t wait to get to work, to put my boots on, and represent the people’s concerns in the United States Senate,” Warnock told NBC’s “Today” show just hours after defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the special election for her seat.
“I hope to be the pastor among peers in the United States Senate. To appeal to the better angels of our nature. And to remind us that Dr. King was right: We’re ‘tied in a single garment of destiny,’” he said.
Warnock’s win early Wednesday morning resets Republicans’ majority in the Senate to 50-49, bringing Democrats to the brink of control of the chamber. The results of Georgia’s other runoff race are still outstanding, but Ossoff currently leads Republican David Perdue by more than 16,000 ballots, with about 98 percent of the expected vote already tallied.
Nevertheless, Ossoff declared himself the winner in a video message Wednesday morning, pledging to “serve all the people of the state” and to “give everything I’ve got to ensuring that Georgia’s interests are represented” in the Senate.
“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate,” he said. “Thank you for the confidence and trust that you have placed in me.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was similarly triumphant in a statement Wednesday that referred to both Warnock and Ossoff as senators-elect.
“It feels like a brand new day,” Schumer said. “For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people.”
As the country experiences “one of the greatest crises we have ever faced,” he continued, “the Senate Democratic Majority is committed to delivering the bold change and help Americans need and demand. Senate Democrats know America is hurting — help is on the way.”
The roughly 100,000 votes still left to be recorded in Georgia will likely favor the Democrats significantly. If Ossoff also prevails over Perdue, the balance of power in the Senate will strike even at 50-50, allowing Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes on key components of the incoming administration’s agenda.
Loeffler has thus far refused to concede the race to Warnock, but the senator-elect said Wednesday morning: “Oh, I expect to serve in just a few days.” With his swearing-in, Warnock will become the first Black Democrat to win election to the Senate from a Southern state and only the 11th Black senator in American history.
“I can’t tell you how honored I am that the people of my home state — where I was born and raised and educated at Morehouse College — have decided to send me to the United States Senate to represent their concerns at this defining moment in American history,” Warnock told NBC.
In another interview with NPR, Warnock previewed his own legislative priorities, indicating that he would move quickly to help shepherd the passage of $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans.
President Donald Trump interjected that proposal into near-finalized coronavirus relief negotiations last month, but it was subsequently quashed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Georgia Democrats then campaigned on the bolstered direct payments in the closing days of their runoff races.
“We ought to pass the $2,000 stimulus [checks],” Warnock said, arguing that “people need immediate relief.”