The election results were great for Democrats–if you are Joe Biden or Sen. Kamala Harris. Not so much for Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. Democrats fail to win a majority in the Senate and lost critical seats in the House.
Because of the disappointing finish in down ballot races, it would be unwise for Joe Biden to select a sitting member of Congress to join his administration.
In the Senate, Democrats have seen a net gain of just one seat, well short of the four they need to retake control of the upper chamber. Unless they can flip the two Senate races in Georgia in January they’ll remain in the minority, leaving Biden’s nominees to be subjected to the whims of Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Even if Democrats are able to flip those two seats, their problems does not end.
A 50-50 split would mean Democrats would have to be united behind whoever President Biden chooses as a nominee for his cabinet. They cannot lose a single vote. Opposition from centrist Democratic senators like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin could halt the confirmation process for liberal appointees like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Another thing, both Warren and Sanders are from states with Republican governors who will have the power to select their replacement.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said he would consider replacing Sanders with a “more left–leaning type of independent that would obviously caucus with the Democrats”. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker did not give an opinion on the matter.
The risks are too high, not to mention alot could go wrong. Democrats cannot afford to take these risks.
In the House, Democrats’ majority is much slimmer post-election. This means they cannot risk losing a single seat which could end up with Republicans controlling both chambers and stifling Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
We would love to see rising stars like Rep. Katie Porter be elevated to a position in the Biden administration but, that is not likely to happen. Porter is from a very competitive district and Democrats can not risk losing her seat to Republicans in a special election.
Even if Biden selects Democrats like Reps. Cedric Richmond or Karen Bass, who are from what is considered to be ‘safe democratic districts’ their seats would be left open for at least six months, to allow for a special election to select their replacement. This would be after the 117th Congress is seated. That could mean trouble for Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be under more pressure to try and keep her already slim majority in line, in a divided democratic caucus.
President Biden will be at war with Mitch McConnell from day one of his presidency. His first battle will likely be the next round of coronavirus relief and he cannot risk losing a single vote. He needs his strongest allies to remain in Congress even if Democrats manage to flip those two Senate seats in Georgia.
Oh, while you’re here pre-order President Obama’s memoir ‘A Promised Land’ out November 17. We get a small commission!.