Fight for Senate control awaits in Georgia after Biden’s win

New York Senator Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference outside an early voting site in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. New Yorkers lined up to vote early for a fourth consecutive day Tuesday after a weekend that saw a crush of more than 400,000 voters statewide. The unofficial tally shows about 194,000 voters this weekend in New York City, where some people waited an hour or more in lines that stretched for several blocks. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Senator Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference outside an early voting site in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. New Yorkers lined up to vote early for a fourth consecutive day Tuesday after a weekend that saw a crush of more than 400,000 voters statewide. The unofficial tally shows about 194,000 voters this weekend in New York City, where some people waited an hour or more in lines that stretched for several blocks. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

(AP) – Control of the Senate likely won’t be decided until a January runoff in Georgia, even after Democrat Joe Biden won the White House on Saturday.

That post-election cliff-hanger will determine the balance of power in Washington, as neither party appears to have a lock on a Senate majority right now.

So far, the tally for the next Senate is 48 Republicans and 48 Democrats after Tuesday's election. Two seats in Georgia are headed to runoffs on Jan. 5. And seats in North Carolina and Alaska are still too early to call.

The stakes are high for for a momentous political struggle in Georgia during President Donald Trump's final lame-duck days in office. The state is closely divided, with Democrats making gains on Republicans, fueled by a surge of new voters. But no Democrat has been elected senator in some 20 years. As much as $500 million could be spent on the two races, one strategist said.

“Now we take Georgia, and then we change America,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told a crowd celebrating Biden's victory Saturday on the streets of Brooklyn.

With a Democratic majority in the Senate, the party that also controls the House would have a firm grasp on power in Washington. Biden would have latitude over nominees, including for his Cabinet, and a chance to push major portions of his legislative agenda through Congress. If Democrats fall short, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, could wield the power to check Biden's ambitions.

“The Senate is the last line of defense,” tweeted the National Republican Senatorial Committee as soon as the presidential race was called for Biden. It was a fundraising appeal.

Republicans have been working to retain their majority, but even if they secure the final two races where ballots are still being counted in North Carolina and Alaska, they would still fall short of the 51 seats needed.