Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE (R-Ky.) signaled on Tuesday that the winner of the Alabama Senate special election will not be sworn in before the Senate wraps up its work for the year.
"Sen. Strange is going to be here through the end of this session," McConnell told reporters, referring to Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangePress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Pandemic proves importance of pharmaceutical innovation The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings MORE (R-Ala.), when asked about the Senate race's impact on the timeline for tax reform.
Senators want to wrap up their work for the year next week, which would mean McConnell would be able to depend on Strange's vote on tax reform and funding the government.
Alabama voters on Tuesday will decide the Senate race between Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate, and Republican Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. The Alabama secretary of State will have to certify the election results before the winner can be sworn in, a process that was already expected to take weeks.
Republicans raced to distance themselves from Moore, who has denied the allegations, but President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE threw his support behind the former judge last week.
The winner of the race could roil the Senate GOP caucus and make it harder for McConnell to govern.
A Jones victory would leave McConnell with an even narrower 51-49 majority. That would make it harder for Republicans to get 50 votes if they want to try again to repeal ObamaCare next year, and could force him to rely more on Democrats to pass other legislation.
But there's also no guarantee Moore would vote regularly with McConnell. Moore has frequently lambasted McConnell during his campaign and suggested that he would not support the Kentucky Republican as majority leader.
A spokesperson for Strange said he would stay until the next senator from Alabama is sworn in.