Facing a 50-50 partisan split in the US Senate, the chamber's top Democrat and Republican discussed adopting a power-sharing deal similar to one struck two decades ago in similar circumstances, a Democratic spokesman said on Tuesday.
Democrat Chuck Schumer, set to become majority leader thanks to incoming Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote, told the chamber's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, that he favored adopting a deal along the lines of the 2001 arrangement "without extraneous changes from either side," a Schumer spokesman said.
Recognizing that the vice president could not be a constant presence in the chamber, the 2001 agreement split committee memberships evenly and mandated that both leaders seek to attain an equal balance of the two parties' interests when scheduling and debating legislative and executive business. When one party has clear control of the Senate, it holds committee chairmanships along with a majority of committee seats and dictates the chamber's agenda.
McConnell also sought to keep the Senate's legislative filibuster, according to his office. Some Democrats favor changing the rules so that legislation could pass on a simple majority vote. But McConnell wants to keep the rules requiring a super-majority of 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and advance legislation.