The senator’s win comes as Democrats captured Senate control by a slim 51-49 victory following mid-term elections — securing extra padding with the re-election of Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff election.
“It strengthens our hand in the committees, it strengthens our hand on nominations, for example: Judges. And then I’m particularly pleased because Senator Warnock has worked very closely with me particularly, in terms of holding down health care costs and clean energy,” Wyden explained.
The Warnock victory for Democrats, however, was met with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s Dec. 9 announcement that she’s leaving the Democratic party and is registering as Independent.
While some politicos have questioned what this means for Democrats’ Senate control, Wyden pointed out “we already have independents…she will keep her committees, her committees are assigned by Senate Democrats. I have worked with her often and I think from the standpoint of running the Senate, there will be little change.”
“In terms of governing, and that’s the key thing — Angus King, Bernie Sanders, they’re declared Independents, but they caucus with the Democrats– they get their committee assignments with Democrats, so we are still in control,” Wyden furthered.
Meanwhile, Republicans secured control of the House, raising concerns for Wyden in terms of the party’s far-right members and bipartisanship.
“I’m certainly concerned because look at how far right some of these Republicans are in the House. We remember Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield; this is not that kind of Republican,” Wyden said.
“Some of what we’ve seen, the hatemongering in terms of some of these individuals, I just hope that they’ll use some of the role models – for example, like my partner on the Senate Finance Committee Mike Crapo of Idaho who always tries to find common ground.”
Wyden –who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is a member of the Intelligence, Energy, Budget and Taxation committees– highlighted such bipartisanship in gun safety legislation.
“In the commonsense gun safety law that was passed at the federal level, which for example beefed up background checks on a bipartisan basis, I wrote with Republicans four separate laws with respect to strengthening mental health,” Wyden recalled.
Continued Democratic control of the Senate also comes as both Democrats and Republicans push for legislation like the Respect for Marriage Act. Wyden said questions linger if the Supreme Court will revisit marriage equality, after the high court overturned Roe v. Wade.