Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that no matter who wins Tuesday’s Senate election in Alabama, Republican Luther Strange will remain in the seat until the end of the session this year.
“Sen. Strange is going to be here through the end of this session,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.
Republicans are eager to pass a tax reform bill and send it to the president’s desk as early as next week, but there is no guarantee they will be able to round up the votes by then, and they might need more time.
Strange, a Republican, was appointed to the seat to replace Jeff Sessions, who President Trump picked to serve as attorney general.
Keeping Strange in the seat assures Republicans of a reliable GOP vote, not just for tax reform but for must-pass spending legislation.
Republican Roy Moore defeated Strange in the Alabama Republican primary and is facing off against Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday’s election.
State officials said certification of Tuesday's election would not happen until Dec. 26th at the earliest in order to ensure all counties have reported results. The Senate is only expected to be in session this year until Dec. 22 at the latest.
Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct and a pattern of seeking relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Moore also opposes McConnell, who worked to defeat him in the primary, although it is unclear how Moore’s unfavorable view of McConnell would impact how he votes as a GOP senator.
A Jones victory would shrink the GOP’s majority to a mere 51 votes and would make it harder to pass legislation such as the tax bill, which has not support from Democrats.