Congress Faces COVID Response, Biden Priorities In Early 2021

The political makeup of the Senate is crucial to Biden administration plans.
Posted at 2:58 PM, Jan 01, 2021

On January 3 the two-year session of the 116th Congress will finally draw to a close and the 117th Congress will take the oath.

The new Senate will feature new faces, including a second Democrat from Colorado, but two seats will start out vacant. Both Senate races in Georgia are headed to runoffs on January 5th. 

Over in the House, the Democratic majority has thinned, but Nancy Pelosi is expected to retain control of the speaker's gavel.

The House will also gain its first members of Congress who have previously expressed support for QAnon — a baseless conspiracy theory and, according to the FBI, domestic terror threat that falsely alleges certain prominent Democrats are Satan-worshipping pedophiles. 

But the top priority for the new Congress will be certifying Joe Biden's electoral victory in a joint session on January 6. Multiple members of Congress have said they will contest election results. A vote expected to go nowhere in both houses, but will take up significant time on the sixth. 

The Senate's next priority? Taking up Joe Biden's nominees for key cabinet posts, secretary of state, attorney general and defense secretary. Those are just a few of the hundreds of roles that will need to be confirmed by the Senate, which will remain under Republican control, pending the outcome of the Georgia Senate races. 

And on January 20th at noon, congressional leaders from both parties will come together to inaugurate Joe Biden as the 46th president.

From there, it will be up to Biden to set legislative priorities, including a second COVID relief package, which could be bolstered by a Democratic Senate led by Chuck Schumer, if both Democratic candidates win in Georgia, or scuttled by Senate republicans led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Until then, all eyes are on Georgia.