Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell re-elected as Senate picks leadership for next Congress

  • The slate of Senate leaders for both major political parties will be elected Wednesday, and while most of the top brass are expected to hold onto their power, a few key shifts are expected.
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cruised to re-election as majority leader, NBC News reported. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was re-elected minority leader.
  • Both leaders were all but assured to retain their leadership position in the wake of the midterm elections last week, where Republicans expanded their gains in the Senate by defeating multiple red-state Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., make their way to the Senate floor after announcing a two-year deal on the budget earlier in the day on February 7, 2018.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., make their way to the Senate floor after announcing a two-year deal on the budget earlier in the day on February 7, 2018.

The slate of Senate leaders for both major political parties will be picked in closed-door elections Wednesday, and while most of the top brass are expected to hold onto their power, a few key shifts are expected.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cruised to re-election as majority leader. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was re-elected minority leader, NBC News reported.

Both leaders were all but assured to retain their positions in the wake of the midterm elections last week, where Republicans expanded their gains in the Senate by defeating multiple red-state Democrats.

The majority leader is the highest-ranking member of the Senate, followed by the majority whip. The two leaders represent the Republican party on the Senate floor and gather votes for legislation. The policy committee chair leads the committee's research efforts for Republican senators, while the conference chair and vice-chair manage the party's communications strategy.

McConnell, 76, who has served in Senate leadership longer than any other Republican, has not been challenged by his party since becoming leader in 2006, according to NPR. He's held a vice grip on the role even as he remains among the least popular senators in the country, a Morning Consult survey from October showed.

Below him, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is leaving his No. 2 position as Majority Whip in accordance with the Senate GOP rules imposing a three-term limit on most of the top slots. He will be replaced by GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota — a promotion from his prior post as GOP conference chairman. That role goes to Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who is current Republican Policy Committee chairman.

Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt rises to Policy Committee chairman, leaving his current slot as GOP conference vice-chair open. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, beat Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska to become the next Republican conference vice-chair.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., will replace Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democratic leadership in the Senate remained the same after the elections, as expected.

  • Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Minority Whip
  • Patty Murray, D-Wash., Assistant Democratic Leader
  • Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chairwoman of Policy and Communications Committee
  • Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Vice Chair of Conference
  • Mark Warner, D-Va., Vice Chair of Conference
  • Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Chair of Steering Committee
  • Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chairman of Outreach
  • Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Vice Chairman of Policy and Communications Committee
  • Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Secretary of Conference

The relative certainty of the Senate outcome is a far cry from the House, where majority control will shift to Democrats in January. In that chamber, a band of red-state representatives elect in the party have already pledged not to vote for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to become Speaker of the House. But there appear to be few, if any, serious challengers to Pelosi for the role, and she has made it clear that she is "a hundred percent" confident she will become Speaker.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won his bid for House Minority Leader on Wednesday, defeating Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who was backed by the conservative House Freedom Caucus. The top Republican post in the Democrat-controlled House grew competitive after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced in April that he would not seek re-election after the end of his current term.

With its GOP majority intact, the Senate is expected to be a bulwark for President Donald Trump against the House, whose likely Democratic committee leaders have promised to launch investigations into the president's finances and further their probes of Russian election meddling.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

-- CNBC's Carmin Chappell contributed to this report.