WASHINGTON - Democratic US senators elected Chuck Schumer as minority leader for the new Congress on Wednesday, and he tapped former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders for a junior leadership role.
Senate Republicans also met and voted to keep Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as their majority leader.
Schumer, 65, of New York, replaces the retiring Harry Reid as the top Democrat in the Senate as the party prepares to deal with Republican President-elect Donald Trump and Republican majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
"We're ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Republicans, working with soon-to-be-President Trump on issues where we agree, but we will go toe-to-toe against the president-elect whenever our values or the progress we've made is under assault," Schumer told reporters after the Democrats' closed-door election.
Schumer, who has been in the Senate since 1999, asked Sanders, who unsuccessfully challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, to be caucus head of outreach in a move recognizing the independent senator's influence. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was given the role of vice chair of the conference while Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, another progressive voice, was made conference secretary.