Warnock, Ossoff Set to Be Sworn Into Senate Wednesday Afternoon

Warnock, Ossoff Set to Be Sworn Into Senate Wednesday Afternoon
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock hand out lawn signs at a campaign event in Lithonia, Ga., on Oct. 3, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen
Democrats are set to regain Senate control on Wednesday afternoon after Georgia Senate runoff winners Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn into office.

Their campaigns announced Tuesday that the swearing-in ceremonies for Warnock and Ossoff—who defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the state’s Jan. 5 twin Senate runoff elections—will be held at the U.S. Capitol at 4:30 p.m, hours after President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take their oaths of office.

Their victories were certified by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday.

Raffensperger’s office certified that Warnock beat Loeffler by over 1 percent, after he emerged from a free-for-all special election last year with more votes than any candidate, including Loeffler.

The certified results also confirmed Ossoff beat Perdue by approximately 55,000 votes—a change of around 143,000 votes from the 2020 election, when Perdue edged Ossoff by over 88,000 ballots.

Warnock and Ossoff could not be sworn into office until the results were certified.

The pair’s swearing in ceremonies will be presided over by Harris, who will at that point be vice president.

Once they are sworn in, Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate. The vice president is president of the Senate and, in that role, can cast tie-breaking votes. Democrats also control the House of Representatives for the second straight term.

Democrats surprised winning both Senate runoffs after Biden beat President Donald Trump in the state, which has long gone for Republicans. The last Democrat to win a Senate election in Georgia before Jan. 5 was Max Cleland in 1996. Georgia last went for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1992, when it was won by Bill Clinton.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Ossoff, 33, will be Georgia’s first Jewish senator and the youngest sitting member in the Senate. Warnock will be the first African American senator from the state.

In a farewell speech from the Senate floor Tuesday, Loeffler thanked her supporters and extended well wishes to Warnock. She also criticized what she called “cancel culture” and news media coverage of her campaign.

Warnock and Ossoff have vowed to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, back police reform, and overhaul the national response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. Loeffler, meanwhile, suggested in November that a GOP-controlled Senate would be a “firewall against socialism,” warning that her Democratic opponents will try to impose their will if elected.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.