Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell elected Senate minority, majority leaders

Schumer will replace Harry Reid as head of Dems
Democrats replacing Harry Reid as Senate leader
Posted at 10:33 AM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 10:33:11-05

Senate Democrats have elected Chuck Schumer to be their new minority leader when Congress convenes in January. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans re-elected Kentucky's Mitch McConnell to be majority leader.

Schumer will replace Harry Reid as Washington's most powerful Democrat as the party confronts an all-Republican government led by Donald Trump. Reid is retiring in January after 30 years in the Senate as a representative of Nevada.

McConnell is widely popular among Republicans and his election was by acclimation on Wednesday. The 74-year-old is considered a clever tactician who mixes conservative leanings with a willingness to cut bipartisan deals when necessary.

McConnell was Senate minority leader for eight years before becoming majority leader when the GOP took control in 2015.

He enraged Democrats by refusing to let the Senate consider President Barack Obama's nomination of federal judge Merrick Garland to fill a Supreme Court vacancy last February. That paid dividends when Trump was elected president.

McConnell distanced himself from Trump during the campaign, but says he's ready to work with him.

Democrats unanimously picked Schumer at a closed-door meeting Wednesday.

Republicans will have a 52-48 edge in the Senate. Democrats will have some leverage because on important issues, they'll likely force Republicans to garner 60 votes to end filibusters.

It won't always be possible for Schumer to keep Senate Democrats together because many will seek re-election in two years from GOP-leaning states.