Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer says the GOP should hold off on voting on their tax reform plan until Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones, a Democrat who beat Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race on Tuesday night, is seated.
Jones won 49.9 percent of the vote, or 671,151 votes, according to the New York Times. Moore—who has been accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls when he was in his 30s—won 48.4 percent of the vote, or 650,436 votes. CNN exit polling indicates that 30 percent of the voters were African-American, with 96 percent voting for Jones as well as 98 percent of black women.
Jones is the first Democrat to win an Alabama Senate race in 25 years. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously held the seat. The loss marked a huge defeat for President Donald Trump—himself accused of sexual misconduct—who supported his candidacy.
“Today we Senate Democrats are calling on Mitch McConnell to hit pause on his tax bill and not hold a final vote until Doug Jones is sworn into the Senate,” Schumer said during a press conference on Wednesday morning. “Doug Jones will be the duly elected senator from the state of Alabama. The governor didn’t appoint him, he won an election. It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the duly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote.”
Once Jones is sworn in, the GOP will have a 51-member majority. He recommended his Republican colleagues “should stop before it’s too late” and work with Democrats on a bipartisan bill. He admitted the bill may not be liked by the far right or fare left but that it is ultimately a better way forward.
“It’s a loser the way it was written,” he said. “It’s a loser because it helps the wealthy and special interests and not the middle class.”
Schumer told reporters that he spoke with Jones but they did not discuss the tax plan.
“He will make a decision based on what he believes is good for the people of Alabama,” he continued.
The senator argued the victory was a referendum on Republican policies.
“If you look at suburban places—look at Shelby County, the most college-educated county in Alabama, Trump won by 30 and Moore won by only 10 or 12,” Schumer added. “So this was a referendum. The middle class and suburban middle class people said, ‘We want change,’ and when that’s happening in Alabama, that’s happening everywhere.”
When asked whether it was also a referendum on Moore’s conduct, Schumer said a party that clings to a candidate like Moore “has something really wrong with them” but that it “wasn’t the whole story.”
“There’s a great deal of discontent about the way Donald Trump has conducted his presidency and there’s a great deal of discontent about the policies the Republicans are pursuing and that was not just shown in Alabama, the same thing was shown in Virginia…in each case, the Democratic electorate, the base, the millennials, the suburbs came out in much higher numbers,” he said.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told CNN that the election results have to be certified no sooner than Dec. 26 and not later than Jan. 3 and that it is “highly unlikely” that Jones is not the winner. Moore will not concede, but a recount would not occur given that Jones beat Moore by more than half a percentage point.
While acknowledging the law, Schumer still maintained it would be “very nice” to see Jones sworn in this year.
“I’d like to see him seated as soon as possible,” he said.
On Tuesday night, Schumer took to Twitter to congratulate Jones. He blasted Moore and predicted that Democrats would have a good year in 2018.
“Doug Jones will be an outstanding Senator who will represent Alabama well. He was a great candidate and will be an even better Senator. Alabama Senate race, Democrat, Republican, black voters, 2017 elections, Senate, Alabama,” Schumer said. “Roy Moore was an awful candidate and should never have gotten to the Senate. But make no mistake, just like in VA, Dems are energized, focused more on the middle class and those struggling to get there, and things are looking better and better for 2018.”
Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first Democrat to win reelection since the late former Mayor Ed Koch in 1985. Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy, both Democrats, also won the governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, respectively.