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Democrats take control as 117th Congress commences

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Legislative Watch: Democrats win both Senate seats in Georgia; Congress certifies Biden as President; Stabenow to chair Senate AG Committee; Mexico to phase out GMO corn imports.

The 117th Congress began on Sunday with two overriding issues impacting the start—the 2020 Presidential election results and the coronavirus pandemic. Then on Wednesday protesters/rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building vandalizing property, assaulting police officers, and threatening elected officials, with five people ultimately losing their lives. This shows the deep divisions within the nation and will have an impact on this Congress.

House Democrats have the smallest majority that either party has had in the past 20 years at 222-211. The House leadership remains the same with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker and Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Minority Leader. There are 60 new House members.

The Democrats gained control of the Senate by winning both Senate seats in Georgia, pending a possible recount. Raphael Warnock defeated Senator Kelly Loffler (R-GA) and Jon Ossoff defeated Senator David Perdue (R-GA). Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will now be the Majority leader and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will serve as Minority Leader. There are nine new senators.

Democrats' control of the Senate will make it easier for approval of Biden’s cabinet nominations. 

Congress certifies Biden as President

The Congressional proceedings to count the states’ electoral votes were violently disrupted as Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and invaded the House and Senate chambers.  Vice President Mike Pence, representatives, and senators had to be evacuated to secure locations. 

After order was restored, Congress proceeded and certified Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Republicans had an open warfare over the decision to challenge the election results of states won by President-elect Biden. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) officially joined a number of House Republicans in challenging the election results of Arizona, and Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) joined in challenging Pennsylvania. It had been expected that as many as 12 Republican Senators would join, but a number changed their minds after the events on Wednesday unfolded. Both challenges failed overwhelmingly, especially in the Senate where the vote was 93-6 against the Arizona challenge and 92-7 against the Pennsylvania challenge.

Stabenow to chair Senate AG Committee

With the Democrats taking control of the Senate, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will be the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) will serve as Ranking Member.

Stabenow is the only one of the four House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders who has served in leadership in the past. She was the ranking member last Congress and earlier served as chair of the committee.

A priority for Stabenow will be the establishment of a carbon credit system for farmers.

Mexico to phase out GMO corn imports

Mexico announced it plans to ban GMO corn and plans to phase out GMO corn imports by January 2024 as part of the government’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production.  It also plans to end the use of glyphosate.  

According to USDA, U.S. corn exports to Mexico in 2019 were $2.7 billion. 

 

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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