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Senate leaders reach power-sharing deal in 50-50 chamber

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) looked on with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the House Chamber during a reconvening of a joint session of Congress on January 6.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader leader Mitch McConnell reached a two-year power-sharing deal, according to a person familiar with the agreement, formally giving Democrats committee chairmanships and setting other ground rules, allowing the chamber to begin fully functioning after weeks of procedural limbo.

The package is based on a 2001 deal reached the last time the 100-member chamber was divided 50-50.

McConnell agreed to drop his demand that Schumer promise not to end the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes for most legislation after two moderate Democrats -- Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- said they don’t support changing current Senate practice. Progressive Democrats are still pushing to erode the filibuster rule to allow the majority party to pass legislation with just 51 votes.

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Democrats only have the majority by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris‘s tie-breaking vote.

The Senate has only been evenly divided three times before: in 1881, 1953 and 2001.