Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is right about one thing: The cautionary tale of the Republican red wave never materialized during this year’s midterms. Democrats held the US Senate — the first time in more than 100 years that every incumbent senator won reelection — and we added new members to our ranks, incoming Senators John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Peter Welch of Vermont. With the help of Georgians who reelected my colleague Raphael Warnock this week, the result is a historic victory that demonstrates the potency of a Democratic agenda and positions us to deliver more wins for working families over the next two years.
Our newly won majority means we can make major progress for American families. We can swiftly confirm President Biden’s judicial nominees, who will make our courts fairer and more diverse.
Democrats will have the gavel to wield full control of Senate committees, one of Congress’s most important tools to protect the American people. Committee chairs will no longer need a Republican’s approval to set hearings or to conduct investigations, supporting our efforts to hold big corporations accountable and ensure our government is working for the people.
These tools are all the more important because of Republicans’ narrow majority in the House of Representatives, where, instead of using their majority to hold, for example, Big Tech accountable for violating children’s online privacy or massive corporations for price gouging consumers at the grocery store, they have instead chosen to call for investigations into institutions and companies that have adopted common-sense environmental, social, and governance initiatives. The contrast couldn’t be more extreme. Senate Democrats’ majority also brings us one step closer to passing legislation that has for too long been obstructed by conservatives, despite overwhelming support from the American people — namely our efforts to codify Roe v. Wade.
We are also one step closer to eliminating the filibuster. If that happens, Biden can sign into law legislation on immigration reform, investments in child care, and the codification of the right to access abortion.
There is no question that, even with a slim majority these past two years, Democrats have made historic progress. We secured a recovery package that kept tens of millions of families afloat and thousands of businesses from going under at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. We passed gun safety legislation that will help keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people and potentially save lives. We defended the right to marry whomever you love, regardless of their gender, from the threat of the rogue, far-right Supreme Court majority. We delivered the largest investment in climate action in our history, setting the stage for more than $1.7 trillion in public and private dollars to be spent accelerating our clean energy economy and building a brighter, more livable future.
The moral of this election story is clear: The American people want their senators to advance a progressive agenda that works for working families, not the GOP’s tax breaks for the rich and austerity cuts for seniors who rely on programs like Social Security.
Congress now has its first member from Generation Z. Democrats entered the midterm elections with big victories for working- and middle-class families, and our candidates ran and won on a platform to make even bolder and more progressive legislative change over the next two years: protecting our planet from the ravages of climate change; ensuring sick leave and investments in child care; alleviating the heavy burden of student debt on millions of Americans; and safeguarding reproductive freedom for women, LGBTQ people, and low-income communities.
As we enter the 118th Congress in 2023, our mandate from the American people is clear.
Edward J. Markey is a US senator from Massachusetts.