I was perusing Graham shoots down request for Merrick Garland confirmation hearing Feb. 8, when I read

Though Democrats have the Senate majority, Graham is still the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman because the chamber hasn't yet passed an organizing resolution for the 117th Congress.

I realize that there is a lot to do at the start of a new administration, but shouldn't this be somewhere near the top of the list?

Question: why has this not yet been done?


1 Answer 1


Why hasn't the Senate yet passed an organizing resolution for the 117th Congress?

There was a disagreement over how to structure Senate rules. See, S.Res.27, listed below.

As reported by CNBC,

The New York Democrat came to a deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on how to share power in a Senate split 50-50. The two wrangled for weeks over how to structure Senate rules, technically leaving Republicans in control of committees that decide when to move ahead with nominations and legislation.

Schumer said the Senate will pass the organizing resolution later Wednesday. Approval will mean “committees can promptly set up and get to work with Democrats holding the gavels,” he added.

Organizing resolutions for Senate of the 117th Congress
Complete list

  • S.Res.1 - A resolution establishing a Committee to Inform the President of the United States that a quorum of each House is assembled.
  • S.Res.2 - A resolution informing the House of Representatives that a quorum of the Senate is assembled.
  • S.Res.3 - A resolution fixing the hour of daily meeting of the Senate.
  • S.Res.6 - A resolution to elect Patrick J. Leahy, a Senator from the State of Vermont, to be President pro tempore of the Senate of the United States.
  • S.Res.7 - A resolution expressing the thanks of the Senate to the Honorable Chuck Grassley for his service as President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate and to designate Senator Grassley as President Pro Tempore Emeritus of the United States Senate.
  • S.Res.8 - A resolution notifying the President of the United States of the election of a President pro tempore.
  • S.Res.9 - A resolution notifying the House of Representatives of the election of a President pro tempore.
  • S.Res.10 - A resolution electing Gary B. Myrick, of Virginia, as Secretary for the Majority of the Senate.
  • S.Res.11 - A resolution electing Robert M. Duncan, of the District of Columbia, as Secretary for the Minority of the Senate.
  • S.Res.15 - A resolution authorizing the taking of a photograph in the Chamber of the United States Senate.
  • S.Res.27 - A resolution relative to Senate procedure in the 117th Congress.
  • S.Res.28 - A resolution to constitute the majority party's membership on certain committees for the One Hundred Seventeenth Congress, or until their successors are chosen.
  • S.Res.29 - A resolution electing Sonceria Ann Berry as Secretary of the Senate.
  • S.Res.30 - A resolution to amend S. Res. 458 of the Ninety-eighth Congress, as amended.
  • S.Res.32 - A resolution to constitute the minority party's membership on certain committees for the One Hundred Seventeenth Congress, or until their successors are chosen.

[Note: At the time of the posting of this list, the text of S.Res.27 through S.Res.32 was not available.]

From the same The Hill article,

It is unclear when the Senate will pass a power-sharing deal setting up how an evenly split chamber will operate.

Senate leaders indicated that they were close to an agreement last week after they defanged a fight over the legislative filibuster, but the Senate adjourned for the weekend without voting on a deal.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),who is poised to become Senate Budget Committee chairman, told MSNBC that it could pass the Senate on Tuesday. Spokespeople for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Senate floor schedule for Tuesday, Feb 2, 2021, is confirmation votes for Transportation and Homeland Security. "The Senate is expected to consider a budget resolution this week, beginning as early as Tuesday. Additional roll call votes are possible during Tuesday’s session." It could happen at any time.

While the organization resolutions normally pass by unanimous consent, the 50-50 split and Republican resistance means the resolutions may need a vote to ensure passage. Sen. Warner (D-VA) is in quarantine until February 11, 2021, leaving Democrats one vote short for transferring control, should a vote be required.

Update February 3, 2021

Though not noted in the press, Sen. Warner was released from quarantine and voted on February 2, 2021. This was five days after the start of the quarantine and seven days after contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and after a negative test for COVID-19. The release from quarantine was consistent with CDC guidelines. There are no apparent obstacles remaining for approval of the organizing resolutions, other than perhaps scheduling priorities.


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