On Wednesday, Senate Democrats chose new leadership, most notably electing New York Senator Chuck Schumer as minority leader. He takes over for Harry Reid, who will retire. And the changes keep coming as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was appointed to the post of outreach chair.
The Democrats are still reeling from the election and are now refining their leadership base. The party had been criticized by many, including Sanders, for being out of touch with the working class, which helped catapult Donald Trump to the presidency. But Schumer and Sanders are not the only ones to gain more responsibility. Washington Senator Patty Murray was named assistant leader; West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin will become vice chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee; and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin will be Democratic Conference secretary.
Schumer is an 18-year Senate veteran, who is known for his upbeat energy and deep passion for causes. He’s a leading advocate of gun control and teamed up with his cousin, Amy Schumer, during a press conference after the July 2015 theater shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. The Senate Democrats led a gun control filibuster last year that ended in a failed vote, but perhaps Schumer will be able to spur different results in his new position.
Democrats also elevated Sanders to outreach chair, which was likely a move that was geared towards the Bern’s ability to spread progressive messages like wildfire. Sanders issued a message to match his shiny new title. “Real change doesn’t take place on Capitol Hill,” he said. “It takes place in grassroots America. It takes place when millions of working people, young people and senior citizens come together to demand that our government works for all of us and not just the 1 percent. When the people lead, the leaders follow.”