Georgia Senate runoffs will determine control of the Senate

January 5, 2021: Georgia is holding two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, determining partisan control of the chamber.

Prior to taking office on January 20, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden (D) and his team must prepare for the transition between presidential administrations, including selecting senior White House staff and appointees to top government positions.

In 2020, there were 1,472 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,118 positions required Senate confirmation and 354 did not. The new administration is also responsible for filling thousands of other positions across the federal government, including in operations and policy. Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden presidential transition.

News

  • Axios reported Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) is again in consideration for a Cabinet position as secretary of commerce. In December, she publicly stated she would not be Biden’s nominee for secretary of health and human services.
  • HuffPost reported lawyer David Frederick, a partner at  Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, was in consideration for solicitor general. He was an assistant to the solicitor general during the Clinton administration and considered for solicitor general by President Barack Obama (D).
  • The Government Publishing Office issued the new edition of the quadrennial Plum Book, which details more than 9,000 federal positions across government. These include more than 4,000 political appointments to be made by Biden and other members of the executive leadership.

Transition in Context: How do the Georgia Senate runoff elections affect Biden’s transition?

Georgia is holding two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. These two races will determine which party has a majority in the chamber.

Democrats need to win both seats to split control of the chamber 50-50. The vice president—Kamala Harris (D) beginning on January 20, 2021—would then cast any tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Republicans need to win at least one seat to maintain their majority.

Republicans frame the fight over Senate control as a fight against socialism in America. Democrats say the incoming Biden administration needs a Democratic Senate majority to make progress on healthcare and pandemic recovery.

Control of the Senate will also affect the confirmation process for Biden’s political appointees. Nominees require a simple majority to be confirmed.

Georgia’s last Democratic senator, Zell Miller, left office in 2005. Republicans have had a trifecta in the state—holding the governor’s office and controlling both chambers of the state legislature—since 2005. And Republicans have had a triplex—holding the offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—since 2011.

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About the author

Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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