Two questions about the US Senate.

When I heard that the Senate is now 51 Republican and 49 Democrat it made me wonder;

First, are independents who caucus with a party counted as a member for purposes of which party controls the Senate? For example, is Bernie Sanders counted as a Democrat?

Second question; which party controls the Senate if both parties have 50 members? Since the VP is president of the Senate and a Republican, then would McConnell still remain speaker, and would the GOP still be in charge?

  1. Yes, at least as far as considering who has a majority.

  2. The Senate doesn’t have a speaker, it has a president pro tempore. In 2001-2003, the last (and only) time they had a 50-50 tie, they had a power sharing agreement. Each comittee had two chairmen, one from each party, for example. They split who was president pro tem – Strom Thurmond® for about 6 months and Robert Byrd (D) getting the rest of the time.

Thank you. And actually, I know it’s the House that has a speaker. I don’t know why I called McConnell that. :o

Ummm… No. The Senate will be down to 51 Goppers if/when the lame-duck Alabaman is replaced with the Senator Alabamans just elected, but it’s up to the 52 Goppers to decide whether or when to do that.

Yes, if just three GOP Senators were to decide America should be a democracy, then the Pence-McConnell-Trump troika could be overruled, and Doug Jones seated in December. Any bets?

What am I missing? The standard for seating someone is that they don’t go in immediately, so he will be in January. Sessions didn’t get in office until January 1997 after a November 1996 election. December 22nd is the earliest that Jones can get in anyway. The SoS doesn’t think there will be any issue, it’s mostly Moore who is raising a ruckus, right?

There was a panic going around the Internet earlier about Doug Jones not being seated. I think it was based on a misunderstanding of what it meant for Jones not to take his seat until the next session. As far as I can tell, all it meant was that the current session will (probably) end before the election is certified later this month.

Mine could be described as a quibble about OP’s choice of verb tense.

The Democrats accepted this view:

Will the GOP follow Reid’s lead and delay passing the Trillion Dollar Larceny Bill until Jones is seated? Bets?

Moderator Warning

septimus, you’ve been here long enough to know that political jabs are not permitted in General Questions. This is an official warning. Do not do this again.

General Questions Moderator

As I understand it, correct me if I am wrong, Jones will be seated when the results are certified and he arrives in Washington to take his oath of office. Presumably some state official is charged with certifying the election. Moore could ask for a recount (I am sure he could find someone to pay for it, since the margin is too large for the state to do it automatically) which would certainly delay things for a week or so, maybe longer. Then someone could order an investigation into voter irregularities, illegal voting and so on. This could presumably go on for a long time and they might even find a handful of illegal votes. Then, for all I know, the certifying official could simply drag his feet. Meantime, there would probably be lawsuits and who can predict what will happen. Jones ought to be seated in time for the January session, but I would not bet my life on it.

In an on camera interview with CNN on the night of the election (after 99% of the results were in) the Alabama Secretary of State said the earliest he can legally certify the election is December 26th, and the latest is (I think) January 2. He was very dismissive of the possibility of a recount, or that a recount would change anything - he mentioned that in the last recount the vote totals changed by about 3 or 4 votes. He also said all absentee ballots had already been counted, and were in fact the first results reported; they needed to process some military ballots and screen out write-in votes that were for ineligible candidates.

All in all he seemed quite responsible and more interested in doing his job right than play politics, let alone try to muck with the process.

I thought so, too. He seemed downright proud of running a clean election.

Of course, we could always wind up with an Al Franken 2008 scenario.

According to Ballotpedia, Moore cannot ask for a recount. According to state laws Section 17-16-40, the only ones who can request a recount (outside the automatic one at <.5%) are listed below:

Secretary of state
Attorney general
Commissioner of agriculture and industries
Public services commissioner
State senator or state representative
Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
State appellate court judges
Circuit court judges
County-level offices

This does not include federal positions.