Explained: Why are Georgia Senate runoffs extremely crucial for Joe Biden?
US President-elect Joe Biden won the southern state of Georgia with a slim margin but another important election went undecided - the race to Senate. In November, no candidate for two Senate seats from Georgia received a minimum of 50 per cent votes required to win the race, according to the state rules, which meant the top two candidates go through another election, a so-called runoff, on January 5. Both Senate seats from Georgia are currently held by Republicans - David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
Why are Georgia Senate runoffs crucial?
The control over the US Senate is important in getting laws passed, confirming Cabinet appointments and Supreme Court justices on to the bench of the highest court for a lifetime. The Georgia Senate runoffs are extremely crucial for Biden’s administration since the upper chamber of the US Congress is currently controlled by Republicans.
The Senate has 46 Democrats, 50 Republicans and two independent Senators - Bernie Sanders and Angus King - who generally vote along the Democratic lines. If Democrats win the Georgia runoffs, they will have effective control over the Senate with 50 votes and Democratic Vice-President Kamala Harris as the deciding vote in case of a tie.
Last week, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell rejected calls from US President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats to increase coronavirus aid to individuals from $600 to $2,000. Democrats-controlled House had already passed the measure for $2,000 cheques requested by Trump but the Kentucky senator said the money would go to many households that don’t need the aid. If Democrats get effective control over the Senate, they will be able to pass partisan bills.
The Supreme Court already has a 6-3 conservative majority after the Senate confirmed the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the top court seat, replacing liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died in September. The Republican control over the Senate has also played an important role in the nominations announced by Biden’s transition team.