Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican David Perdue in the second round of the Georgia Senate race, consolidating his party’s hold on Congress and the White House, NBC and other media outlets predicted Wednesday.
Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, is expected to defeat Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, in another runoff in the state.
The victories give Democrats and Republicans 50 percent each in the Senate, and in the event of a tie, Harris’s casting of the deciding vote would give Democrats a slim majority.
Democrats will have unified control of Capitol Hill and the White House for at least the first two years of Biden’s term. Biden could seek a broader agenda on the Novel Coronavirus rescue, health care and infrastructure. His nominees for cabinet and court seats will also be easier to pass in the Senate.
In declaring victory Wednesday morning, Mr. Ossoff, 33, thanked Georgia voters for their “faith and trust in me.” He called on the Senate to act “to defeat this virus and provide swift economic relief to our state and to the American people.” He said health care, infrastructure and equal rights are his other priorities in Washington.
Ossoff will be the youngest member of the Senate. He and Mr. Warnock — who would become the first African-American senator from Georgia and the third sitting black senator — secured the Democrats’ first majority in the Senate since 2014.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, on Wednesday pushed for more Novel Coronavirus bailouts, giving an early look at his party’s agenda in the Senate.
“As Majority Leader, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will have a partner who is ready, willing and able to help deliver a forward-looking agenda and offer help and bold change to the American people,” he said in a statement.
Late Wednesday morning, Schumer told reporters that “one of the first things I want to do when our new senator takes office” is to approve $2,000 in direct assistance for the virus. Before the runoff, the Senate failed to approve the stand-alone measure backed by President Trump because Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, did not push for a vote.
Both Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff appear likely to win by bigger margins than Mr Biden did when he won Georgia in November.
Mr. Perdue, 71, is seeking a second term in the Senate. (Technically, he is no longer a senator after the last Congress ended last Sunday.) In November’s election, the Republican failed to win 50% of the vote against investigative filmmaker Ossoff, sending the race to a runoff.
In the early days of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, a series of stock trades by Perdue reportedly led regulators to investigate his investments and declare him a “fraud.” The Republican said the transactions were made by a financial adviser.
Ossoff also argued that Perdue failed to respond to the outbreak, which has killed more than 350,000 people in the United States. In the final days of the runoff, Ossoff pressed Perdue to support a $2,000 direct payment as part of a year-end coronavirus relief package. At President Trump’s urging, Mr. Perdue later supported the cash handouts.
Perdue supports Trump’s efforts to reverse Biden’s 2020 presidential victory. Mr. Perdue, however, could not vote on Wednesday to certify congressional Electoral College votes.
Ossoff stressed that unless Democrats gain control of the Senate, the main elements of Biden’s agenda, including a $15-an-hour minimum wage and a public health care option, could be difficult to pass.