McConnell, Schumer elected to top spots in Senate

Posted at 12:11 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 12:11:05-05

WASHINGTON — Republicans re-elected Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader Wednesday while Democrats tapped Chuck Schumer as their leader as both sides prepare for critical battles with the incoming Trump administration.

McConnell was formally nominated by Sen. Marco Rubio and freshman Sen. Todd Young of Indiana — a nod to his extensive efforts in both states which helped him keep their majority.

McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, led the successful effort to hold the Senate Republicans and was rewarded with an easy victory in a private meeting with his caucus.

Schumer’s ascension was coordinated well before the election, but some veteran Democrats moved into new roles that will prove critical as Trump plies lawmakers next year. He will serve as Trump’s chief antagonist in the new Congress.

Democrats also formally added Vermont independent Bernie Sanders to their ranks — a clear nod to his success in the campaign and the strains within the party moving forward.

“We are ready to go toe to toe with Republicans,” Schumer told reporters, noting that Democrats “can’t flinch and can’t ignore” results of election.

Senate Democrats picked up two seats last week, but it was just shy of enough to win the majority.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a long-serving California Democrat, will take over her party’s top seat on the Judiciary Committee — putting her in place to lead the fight against any Trump nominee for the Supreme Court. Veteran Judiciary member Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, will head to the Senate Appropriations Committee.