Mitch McConnell re-elected Senate majority leader

Washington, Nov 17 (IANS) Mitch McConnell has been re-elected as Senate majority leader by the Senate Republicans and he will begin his new term in January when the new legislative session commences.

The 74-year-old senator from Kentucky was unanimously re-elected on Wednesday by his GOP colleagues in the upper house in a private meeting, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told reporters, Efe news reported.

During the recent presidential campaign, McConnell had distanced himself from GOP nominee Donald Trump because of the mogul’s offensive comments about minorities and women, although now he has said he is prepared to work with him and move forward on the conservative legislative agenda.

Meanwhile, Democrats elected New York’s Chuck Schumer as Senate minority leader to replace Harry Reid, who will retire in January after having led the party while it was in the majority in the upper chamber from 2007-2015, when it lost seats and became the minority party.

Schumer will become the most important Democrat in Washington in opposing the policies of the Trump administration, which will enjoy Republican majorities in both congressional houses.

“We’re ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with Republicans, working with soon-to-be President Trump on issues where we agree. We will go toe-to-toe against the president-elect whenever our values or the progress we’ve made is under assault,” Schumer said at a press conference.

He also said that the Democratic Party needs to be the party that speaks to the people and works in the name of all Americans, adding that Democrats must regain the support of the country’s working class, which on Nov. 8 generally voted for Trump.

With that objective, the 65-year-old Schumer announced the appointment of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the lawmaker tasked with connecting with the working class.

Sanders was Hillary Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination during the party’s primaries and, with his message of redistributing wealth and against the power of big corporations, he managed to win a large number of primaries in Midwestern industrial states, which later supported Trump in the general election.

The November 8 elections, when a third of the Senate’s 100 seats were up for grabs, resulted in a split of 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats in the upper chamber.