WASHINGTON — New York Sen. Charles Schumer is expected to become the new Senate minority leader, one of Congress’ four top leadership posts, putting him in charge of Senate Democrats’ efforts to shape, slow or stop what they see as unacceptable Republican bills or appointments.
“He is now the single most influential Democrat in Washington,” said Jim Manley, a political consultant and former aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is retiring at the end of this year. “He now will lead the opposition.”
Other Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) will have scant power with Trump in the White House and with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) near total control of the House because it operates on majority rule.
McConnell said Wednesday he had talked with Schumer a few times, both about next year and the upcoming lame duck session starting next week.
“I think we’re going to get along fine. He’s got a job to do and I’ve got a job to do. He’s very smart,” said McConnell, But he added, “I don’t think he’ll embrace my agenda.”
Schumer, who cruised to a fourth term Tuesday, had envisioned himself as a deal-making majority leader, working with Republican senators on bipartisan legislation such as creating infrastructure projects through international corporate tax reform.
“I don’t this is exactly the job he was hoping for a couple of months ago, but it’s what the cards have dealt him,” Manley said.
Despite their high hopes, Democrats failed to oust the four to five Republicans up for re-election needed to shift the control to their side of the aisle.
And Schumer canceled a news conference he had announced early Tuesday. In it place, Schumer on Wednesday issued a carefully worded statement.
“President-elect Trump called me this morning, and I congratulated him on his victory . . . I congratulate Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan on their victories as well,” Schumer said.
“This was a divisive and hard fought election, and the outcome surprised many Americans from both political parties,” he said. “Senate Democrats will spend the coming days and weeks reflecting on these results, hearing from the American people, and charting a path forward to achieve our shared goals and to defend our values.”