(Reuters) – Three new Democratic U.S. senators, including the winners of a pair of Georgia races and the successor to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, are set to be sworn in on Wednesday, a source familiar with the planning said, giving the party a working majority in the chamber.
Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, as well as California’s Alex Padilla, should be sworn in once the Senate reconvenes after the midday inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and Harris, the source said, asking not to be identified.
The additions will split the chamber, currently Republican controlled, 50-50 with Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
Georgia officials certified the results of the state’s Jan. 5 runoff election on Tuesday, Georgia’s secretary of state said earlier, confirming Warnock and Ossoff had defeated Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
The statewide results “are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county”, the Georgia secretary of state’s office said in a statement.
The Georgia runoffs – required under state law after none of the candidates in the Nov. 3 elections won at least 50% of the vote – extended the uncertainty after the elections because they would determine which party controlled the chamber.
Harris resigned her Senate seat on Monday. Governor Gavin Newsom picked Padilla, who has been California’s secretary of state since 2015, to fill the rest of Harris’ term.
Democrat Chuck Schumer is expected to become Senate majority leader under the new arrangement, with Mitch McConnell, the current leader, demoted to Republican leader.
Nonetheless, the 50-50 split means that the two parties might have to work more cooperatively than they have over the last several years to avoid legislative gridlock. Democrats also hold a 221-211 majority in the House of Representatives, with three seats vacant.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; additonal reporting by Susan Heavey and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)