The importance of the Georgia Senate runoffs


EP Presnell and Brennan Eberwine

On election night, voters voted for more than just the president, they also voted for their representatives on the State and Federal Level. While most states were able to call their winners either on election night or the week of, both of Georgia’s spots in Congress were called for a runoff, due to a rule that elected representatives in Georgia must have a clear majority —above 50%— the vote was pushed back to take place on Jan. 5, 2021.

Today, thousands of Georgians are heading back to the polls for a second time to vote for the two contested Senate seats. Although the vote may be happening in Georgia, there is a lot at stake for this election and everyone around the country needs to understand its impact as President-elect Biden prepares to take office in less than a month. 

Currently, one of the Senate seats in Georgia is held by Republican Kelly Loeffler, appointed by Governor Brian Kemp after Senator Johnny Isakson retired, her opponent is Democratic candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock, a native Georgian and Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The other Senate seat in Georgia is currently held by Republican David Perdue. Running against him is Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff, who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in a special election in 2017.

Both of these seats are extremely important, as they will decide who will have control of the Senate. The House of Representatives currently has a slim Democratic majority, with Nancy Pelosi being re-elected Speaker of the House. If Warnock and Ossoff both win their respective seats in this election, it would turn the Senate Democratic as well. This would make both chambers of Congress a Democratic majority and in turn, take away Mitch McConnell’s title as Senate Majority Leader. 

With both chambers of Congress and the presidency back in Democratic hands, a trifecta in government would be created. A trifecta is crucial to passing major legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) being passed under a Democrat trifecta in 2009 and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act being passed under a Republican trifecta in 2017. If President-elect Joe Biden hopes to get any of his major campaign promises passed, these two senate seats are crucial to making that happen. Some of the major legislation President-elect Biden hopes to pass are repealing the 2017 Tax Cuts, strengthening the ACA and economic stimulus following the COVID-19 pandemic effects on the economy. 

Although Democrats will have a majority in both chambers of Congress they are slim and it is likely President-elect Biden will have to do crucial negotiations with some of the more moderate Republicans such as Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, it is likely that Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell will block most of President-Elect Biden’s proposals and prevent major legislations.