Georgia on Our Minds

2020 | Week of December 7 | Radio Transcript #1389

I’ve got Georgia on my mind today, and it probably should be on your mind as well.

I was born in and lived in Atlanta, Georgia, until I was almost twelve, when we moved to Michigan where my parents were from.  Then after college, I moved to Wisconsin.  All of this, in addition to the work I am currently doing, gives me a very strong interest in what is going on regarding the November 3 election results in these states where I have such strong ties.

Lawsuits alleging election fraud are continuing to playout in all three states and the pace of those will no doubt quicken this week. But Georgia has an extra twist with its US Senate runoff election on Tuesday, January 5.

Typically, by law no state can have both US Senators up for election in the same election. However, due to a resignation because of health issues, Georgia had to have both a regular race for one US Senate seat and a special election for the other US Senate seat, both held on November 3.

Georgia election law requires that to win a race, a candidate must get at least 50% of the vote. In both US Senate races, no candidate received 50% or more of the vote, forcing a run-off, where the top two vote getters in both races run head-to-head in an election, which in this case happens on Tuesday, January 5.

Incumbent Republican David Perdue is facing Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff in one of the Georgia US Senate races, and incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler is squaring off against Democrat Raphael Warnock in the other race.

The Republicans currently hold a slight majority in the US Senate. If the Democrats win these races in Georgia, that majority is gone. The US Senate would be split 50-50, requiring a tie-breaking vote.

Our US Constitution provides for this situation. According to the Constitution, the president of the US Senate is the vice-president of the country. Right now, Vice-president Mike Pence has that tie-breaking vote. In fact, Vice-president Pence has cast thirteen tie-breaking votes since President Trump took office in early 2017 and those were cast when the Republicans held the majority.

Obviously, if Joe Biden becomes president, then Kamala Harris as vice-president would become the tie-breaking vote in the US Senate, as long as she remains vice-president.

Currently, with the US House of Representatives controlled by Democrats and Republicans having the majority in the Senate, it is the Senate that acts as a stop-gap against the bills the House passes, sine both houses must pass a bill before it goes to the President for signing or vetoing.

Should Biden and Harris occupy the White House in late January and the US Senate is split 50-50 when it comes to membership and of course Democrats retain a majority, albeit a smaller one, in the US House, what this essentially means is the Democrats would control all of Congress and the presidency.

So what happens in these US Senate runoff elections in Georgia really does matter to us in Wisconsin. Consider some of what the Senate will likely be taking up during the next two to four years. Let’s start with confirming presidential judicial nominees to lifetime positions, from the lowest federal court through the US Supreme Court. But those aren’t the only confirmations the US Senate deals with. They also confirm all Cabinet and top-level agency presidential nominations.

A major change with a split senate would also be how committee chairmanships are handled. According to senate rules, if the Senate is 50-50, then the party of the vice-president determines majority for purposes of committee chairmanships.  Those chairmanships are very important since the chairman determines which bills will get hearings and committee votes, steps critical in the legislative process.

For instance, the senator chairing the senate health committee, can bury or push forward a pro-life bill, depending upon his or her political and worldview leanings. The 2020 Democrat platform is very clear that abortion should be without restriction everywhere in this country. The Republican platform states the party is “proud to be the party that protects human life” and then goes into specifics such as support for the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Who controls committees really does matter.

If Georgia hasn’t been on your mind, I hope you will think about the Peach State enough right now to add these senate runoff races to your prayer list. Once again we are about to realize that elections matter and elections have very real consequences.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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