Legislative agenda could come down to these senators, depending on Georgia results

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Georgia’s Republican senators warned of a “radical liberal” Congress controlled by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders if they lose their seats

But the Democratic Party’s moderate flank would be well-positioned to rain on the progressive parade.

Democrats need to win Sen. David Perdue’s and Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seats to secure a 50-50 tie in the upper chamber. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could then cast the tie-breaking vote.

President-elect Joe Biden clinched the Peach State last month, the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Still, Democrats have an uphill battle on their hands as Republicans had an edge in both Senate races once all candidates in the open race were accounted for. Under Georgia’s unusual election laws, major parties do not need to choose one candidate.


If Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock both pull off victories, the legislative agenda is likely to come down to a handful of moderate Democrats who could side with Republicans in quashing Green New Deal or Medicare-for-All-type legislation. Here’s who to watch if Democrats secure two wins in Georgia.

Joe Manchin, West Virginia 

Manchin ranked the 53rd most “politically right” senator overall and first among Democrats, according to GovTrack’s record of his voting from the 115th Congress. He ranked further to the right than three GOP senators — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

GovTrack bases rankings on legislation that lawmakers cosponsor. 

The moderate West Virginia Democrat was the target of a stone-cold death glare from Ocasio-Cortez after he mocked defunding the police and a “crazy socialist agenda.” 

“Defund the police? Defund, my butt. I’m a proud West Virginia Democrat. We are the party of working men and women. We want to protect Americans’ jobs & healthcare. We do not have some crazy socialist agenda, and we do not believe in defunding the police,” Manchin wrote in a tweet.

Ocasio-Cortez responded with a photo of a steely gaze during President Trump’s State of the Union address.

Manchin tried to assuage the fears of Fox News viewers in the aftermath of the election that he wouldn’t support “crazy stuff” from some Democrats. 

“50-50 [control] means that if one senator does not vote on the Democratic side, there is no tie and there is no bill,” Manchin said on “Special Report” in November.

“I commit to tonight and I commit to all of your viewers and everyone else that’s watching, I want to allay those fears, I want to rest those fears for you right now because when they talk about, whether it be packing the courts or ending the filibuster, I will not vote to do that,” he continued.

As of April 2020, FiveThirtyEight found that Manchin had voted with Trump’s position about 53 percent of the time.


Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona 

Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ranked more politically right than both Kentucky Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell — and all members of her own caucus — in GovTrack’s 2019 report card. 

Overall she has voted with Trump 51.1 percent of the time, much more in the 2017-2018 Congress than the 2019-2020 Congress.

She told the Arizona Mirror she makes decisions “based on what’s right for Arizona, not on party politics.” 

“I’ll work with anyone to get things done for our state,” she has said.

In 2019, the Arizona Democratic Party threatened to censure her for “failing to support the tenets of the 2016 Democratic Party platform.”

The threat centered around her vote to confirm Attorney General William Barr and her opposition to net neutrality protections created under President Obama. She was one of only three Democrats who voted to confirm Barr and one of only two who didn’t co-sponsor the net neutrality legislation. 

Chris Coons, Delaware

In March 2017, Coons was awarded the first-ever Bipartisan Policy Center’s Legislative Action Award for his “commitment to putting policy before partisanship,” according to his website.

Coons votes with Trump 29 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

Coons was vehemently opposed to confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and he said there needs to be a “wide-open conversation” about the ideological balance of federal courts after Senate Republicans, under Mitch McConnell, embraced the mantra of “no vacancy left behind” and confirmed 230 Trump-appointed judges to federal courts. 

“We’ve got to have a wide-open conversation about how do we rebalance our courts,” Coons said. “Yes, the two Supreme Court cases that have been stolen, where these processes that are just wildly hypocritical have been used to jam through partisan nominees. But we’ve got to look at our federal courts as a whole.”

Jon Tester, Montana 

Tester ranked fourth most politically right among Democrats and was fourth among Senate Democrats to join bipartisan bills.

This week, Tester argued that his party’s message to rural voters is “really, really flawed.” 

“We do not have a — what do I want to say — a well-designed way to get our message out utilizing our entire caucus. So we need to do more of that,” Tester said. “You cannot have Chuck Schumer talking rural issues to rural people; it ‘ain’t gonna’ sell. And quite frankly, I don’t know that you can have Jon Tester go talk to a bunch of rich people and tell them what they need to be doing.”

Tester also criticized his party’s failure to condemn instances of rioting that occurred alongside nationwide protests against police brutality in recent months. He referred to calls to defund the police as “not just bad messaging, but just insane” for Democrats.


“Democrats can really do some positive things in rural America” by focusing on infrastructure projects and education reform, the senator argued.

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