After Momentous Election, Senators Largely Settle for Leadership Status Quo

Republicans add woman to leadership slate for first time since 2010

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were re-elected to their respective posts for the 116th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the aftermath of a momentous midterm election, senators in both parties are largely sticking with the status quo when it comes to their own elected leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York were re-elected to their posts by acclamation, along with the entire slate of nine other Democratic leaders.

“We have a unique opportunity in the new Congress to reach more bipartisan agreements to get things done for families across the country, and we will be ready to work with the president and our Republican colleagues on issues where we agree,” Schumer said. “However, we will not shy away from standing up to President [Donald Trump] and Congressional Republicans with everything we’ve got when the values we as Americans hold dear are threatened.”

The GOP had some changes to make, with current Majority Whip John Cornyn term-limited out under conference rules and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner up for re-election and not seeking another term as National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman. Todd Young of Indiana is stepping into Gardner’s role as campaign committee chief. 

South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune is moving up from conference chairman to whip, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming shifts up into Thune’s former role and Sen. Roy Blunt moves from conference vice chairman to policy chairman, the role being vacated by Barrasso. 

Aside from Young, the other new face in GOP ranks will be Iowa’s Joni Ernst, who prevailed in a contest with Nebraska’s Deb Fischer to be vice conference chair. That result adds a woman to the leadership team for the first time since Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski stepped aside when she decided to run for re-election as a write-in candidate in 2010 after losing a Republican primary.

Correction 12:50 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misidentified Cory Gardner’s party.

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