51 Matters

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Remember that 51 senators is substantially different from 50. Big picture, 50 Senate seats plus Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote made Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. He and his caucus controlled the calendar, what came to a vote. But the committees had equal numbers of Democratic and Republican members. That meant issuing subpoenas required agreement between the parties. Nominees couldn’t be voted out of committee on straight partisan votes. There were workarounds for some of these issues. But they were complicated and time-consuming. So in addition to decreasing the clout of Senators Manchin and Sinema and positioning Democrats marginally better for retaining the Senate in 2024, the difference between 50 and 51 senators is a big deal on the basic nuts and bolts of running the Senate, getting judicial nominees confirmed and more.

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