Senate Control Likely Won't Be Decided Until Jan. 5

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It looks as though control of the Senate won't be determined until at least Jan. 5, even though Congress is scheduled to gavel in Jan. 3, leaving the question about just who would be doing the gaveling.

Currently, the election results have the Republicans at 50 seats and Democrats plus independents that caucus with the Democrats (Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont) at 48, with two run-off elections in Georgia still to be held. If Dems win both, it would be a 50-50 tie, in which case Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaker in party-line votes.

The plan had been to hold one of those Senate run-offs Dec. 1 and the other Jan. 5, but Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said that Dec. 1 was just too short a time frame, so both would be held Jan. 5. He said it had the added advantage of saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

If Democrats could control the Senate, Congress would likely legislate the Title I, common carrier, definition of Internet access and put the brakes on media ownership deregulation.

Raffensperger also said that because the margin of victory for Joe Biden in the presidential race was so small--about 14,000 votes--that there would be a hand recount of "lawfully cast legal ballots" in all counties before the election is certified (at this point scheduled for Nov. 20). He said the goal was to build trust in the election and that it would be an audit, recount and re-canvas rolled into one, which he conceded would be a heavy lift.

Raffensberger also conceded that President Trump's campaign could ask for its own recount after the certification recount, but that would be a scan rather than a hand recount.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.