Schumer, McConnell elected top leaders in Senate
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. 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.
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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.
Senator Joe Manchin, a more conservative Democrat from West Virginia, was named vice chairman of the Democratic policy and communications committee.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois remained minority whip, the No. 2 spot, while Senator Patty Murray of Washington was chosen as assistant Democratic leader.
In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced she was running for minority leader again and said she already has the support of more than two-thirds of her caucus.
Pelosi, who may face a challenger, agreed this week to delay leadership elections until Nov. 30 after her fellow Democrats called for more time to reassess why they fell short of their goals in the Nov. 8 election.
Paul Ryan was nominated by Republicans in the House on Tuesday for another term as speaker.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Rick Cowan and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by Susan Heavey)