What Doug Jones' win means for Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's time with the Senate chamber as he knows it got a lot shorter Tuesday night,...

Posted: Dec 13, 2017 9:24 AM
Updated: Dec 13, 2017 9:24 AM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's time with the Senate chamber as he knows it got a lot shorter Tuesday night, after Democrat Doug Jones was projected to win a seat in Alabama that had been reliably Republican for decades.

Jones' victory over Republican candidate Roy Moore means that Jones will replace incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Strange early next year.

Next year, Republicans' control of the Senate goes from 52-48 to 51-49

GOP senators on the fence will have more leverage in negotiations

For the immediate challenges ahead, such as taxes and government funding, McConnell's calculus remains about the same because he is trying to finish both of those critical issues before the end of the year.

The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday that Strange will serve out the rest of the session, so Jones probably won't be sworn in until at least January 3. That means that for the next few weeks, McConnell will still command a 52-48 majority.

GOP tax negotiators -- busily hammering out a final bill that can pass the House and the Senate -- say they have always been full speed ahead on tax reform, regardless of the special election's outcome.

RELATED: Doug Jones' future Senate colleagues prepare for his arrival

"Our schedule was never predicated on this election -- either way," one senior Republican aide told CNN after Jones was projected to be the winner Tuesday evening.

For next year, when that margin will slip to 51-49, every Republican senator who is "on the fence" will have enormous new leverage on the issues they care about. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and others will be able to demand more from McConnell, House Republicans and President Donald Trump in any negotiations.

If Trump is serious about trying to take another shot at repealing the Affordable Care Act, his margins for doing so just got a lot tighter and he will have to give more to this group if he wants to pass it.

Republicans in the House will have to accept this new reality too, which won't be easy, especially for House Freedom Caucus members, who are already frustrated with giving in to the Senate.

McConnell and Trump also thought they would have significant leverage with the many Democrats from red states Trump won in 2016 who are up for re-election this cycle. But Trump's unorthodox style and undisciplined approach to governing have weakened him with that seemingly vulnerable group and left them stronger than expected. Jones' victory will buoy them too.

Overall, Democrats will be empowered and will likely demand more when it comes to spending issues and other priorities, such as what to do about recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump set to expire early next year. The push by Democrats to get a DACA deal before the end of the year may soften as they consider the stronger leverage they will have next year.

In terms of the balance of power, Democrats still have to defend many more seats than Republicans do in 2018, making a Democratic takeover still a long shot. But then again, who thought Alabama would elect a Democrat Tuesday night?

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 133851

Reported Deaths: 1803
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28467459
Washington18734171
Marion16247239
Clackamas11698138
Lane8353109
Jackson693085
Umatilla679368
Deschutes499936
Yamhill319045
Malheur313552
Linn311646
Polk245540
Klamath242838
Josephine174333
Benton170514
Jefferson170525
Douglas168743
Union111416
Wasco108123
Columbia104918
Lincoln99617
Hood River95421
Coos93815
Morrow93810
Clatsop6865
Crook62110
Baker5685
Tillamook3652
Curry3245
Lake2305
Grant2131
Harney1754
Wallowa963
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3015644

Reported Deaths: 33724
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles102419013936
San Bernardino2540941560
Riverside2422062517
Orange2123892367
San Diego2117872103
Santa Clara935571076
Kern85362565
Fresno82039932
Sacramento801541080
Alameda67375764
Ventura61257412
San Joaquin57094748
Contra Costa52146449
Stanislaus42548749
Tulare41016501
Monterey35418250
San Mateo32186294
San Francisco29139262
Imperial25253463
Solano25216105
Santa Barbara24481231
Sonoma23871240
Merced23800296
Kings19254133
Placer17194173
San Luis Obispo15658128
Madera13328130
Santa Cruz12196113
Marin11569154
Yolo10519131
Shasta9594117
Butte9411121
El Dorado765944
Sutter760477
Napa752139
Lassen509413
San Benito494143
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada317673
Mendocino311432
Amador300129
Lake257228
Humboldt232224
Glenn192419
Colusa16919
Calaveras160823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10914
Inyo92429
Del Norte8572
Plumas5735
Modoc3793
Mariposa3464
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 31°
Brookings
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 58°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 31°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 31°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 15°
Clear and cold tonight
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events