117th Congress officially sworn in amid pandemic crisis

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The 117th Congress has officially been sworn in as new lawmakers make their way to Capitol Hill amid a worsening pandemic crisis.

On Sunday, Congress convened where newly elected members and lawmakers took the oath of office. Nancy Pelosi returned as House Speaker following the Democrats’ achievement of a narrow majority – however it is expected to be her last time following a distinguished career that has made her a key power player in Washington politics for the last 17 years.

House Democrats were able to keep control of the House during November’s elections, but suffered losses while Republicans outperformed polls and expectations. With a narrow majority, Democrats will have less room to manoeuvre.

Joining the ranks were a larger number of GOP women lawmakers in the new Congress, while the balance of power in the Senate still remains unclear. As the Senate race in Georgia goes down to the wire on January 5, it is yet unclear which party will have overall control of the chamber. Some analysts predict the outcome could have a big impact on stock valuations, by up to 10% either way.

The ramifications for the Georgia race could also change the balance of power in the Senate, with the Democrats potentially having an edge if Republican candidates lose the runoffs.
With the current Republican Senate majority in the balance, a win by the Democrats in Georgia could have a wide ranging impact on how much leverage the next administration will have to change laws and re-write American domestic and foreign policy.

If Democrats pull off a win, they will increase their margin in the chamber to 50 seats, with Republicans on 50. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could use her tie-breaking vote privileges, allowing Democrats to hold a majority, the first since 2015, depending on Tuesday’s results.

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