Democrats scored two huge victories this week in sweeping both special elections for the last two remaining U.S. Senate seats in Georgia. Not only will the outcome give them control of the U.S. Senate, but it means they will control most levers of the federal government when President-Elect Joe Biden assumes office on Jan 20.
While the results are very close, and not finalized, both Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have leads that project them to win. Should the results hold, Democrats will control the U.S. House, Senate and presidency for the first time since 2009. However, their majorities will be the narrowest in Congress since 2001. With a 50/50 split in the U.S. Senate, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will cast tie-breaking votes. And in the House, Democrats will rely on a 4-5 vote margin. While there was some talk of eliminating the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation in the Senate, moderate Democrat senators like Joe Manchin (WV) and Krysten Sinema (AZ) have gone on record opposing this.
So, while we will no longer have divided government in the nation’s capital, it may look similar to divided government with such narrow margins. This will make it difficult for Democrats to pass sweeping reforms like Medicare for All, but will allow them to attempt other reforms like lowering the Medicare eligibility age and adding a “public option,” both of which were in Joe Biden's campaign health care plan. Additionally, it could mean that more sweeping reforms come from the Biden administration and rulemaking process in a vein similar to the Trump administration.
What is most expected in the short term is for Democrats to work on another COVID stimulus package with more aid for Americans as well as state and local governments. As always, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) will work actively and in bipartisan fashion to advocate for priorities which support and promote Wisconsin's exceptioanl health care.
For questions, contact WHA Vice President of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter