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Chuck Schumer to lead Democrats as senate minority leader

November 16, 2016 By Alan Fram Associated Press
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., arrives for a Senate Democratic caucus organizing meeting to elect their leadership for the 115th Congress, Wednesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senate Democrats have elected Schumer to be their new minority leader when Congress convenes in January. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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The chamber’s Democrats replaced departing leader Harry Reid with Sen. Chuck Schumer, meaning the New Yorker will be Washington’s most powerful Democrat as the party confronts a Republican-dominated government.

Schumer was elected unanimously at separate closed-door meetings.

Schumer, 65, will replace the retiring minority leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. Schumer has been No. 3 Democratic leader and vaulted over No. 2 leader Dick Durbin of Illinois, who will remain in that slot.

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Schumer will lead Democrats’ last line of defense against the Trump White House and GOP-controlled House. Senate Democrats — outnumbered 52-48, including two independents who back Democrats — could prevent McConnell from getting the 60 votes he’ll need on some important issues.

It won’t always be possible for Schumer to keep Senate Democrats together because many of them will seek re-election in two years from GOP-leaning states.

Schumer has said he’ll seek opportunities to work with Trump but will face pressure from disappointed Democratic activists to adopt a hard line. It’s unclear how he’ll balance the demands of progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., against red-state senators facing re-election in 2018 and needing protection from politically damaging votes.

Schumer has a history of being a savvy partisan combatant willing to strike compromises, such as on a 2013 bipartisan immigration overhaul that ended up dying.

The lack of drama as senators chose their leaders was the opposite of the House, where both parties’ leadership elections have been more theatrical.

There, Republicans voted Tuesday to re-nominate Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., after recalcitrant conservatives and Trump backers upset by Ryan’s frigid campaign-season treatment of Trump fell into line.

House Democrats postponed their leadership election until Nov. 30 after junior lawmakers demanded more time to digest the party’s disappointing Election Day showing, a warning shot at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

On Tuesday, House Republicans re-nominated Ryan by unanimous voice vote.

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