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The enduring career of Chuck Schumer, who rose from the House of Representatives in the early 1980s to become the powerful Senate majority leader

Chuck SchumerSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington, DC.
  • He was elected to a Brooklyn- and Queens-anchored House seat in 1980 when he was just 29 years old.
  • Schumer won his first Senate race in 1998 and became the leader of the Democratic caucus in 2017.

Sen. Chuck Schumer always wears his Brooklyn pride on his sleeve.

The veteran lawmaker — born and raised in the highly diverse New York City borough — graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School before serving in the New York State Assembly and then winning his first US House of Representatives election in 1980 at age 29.

After serving in the House for 18 years, he rose to the Senate in 1999 and continues to represent New York state’s roughly 20.2 million people.

In his years in the Senate, he has chaired the Rules Committee and led the party’s campaign arm to elect and re-elect Democratic senators. He also served as chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and vice chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus before succeeding Harry Reid of Nevada in 2017 as leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

From 2017 to 2021, Schumer pushed for Democratic Party priorities during the administration of then-President Donald Trump while in the minority, before two January 2021 Senate runoff elections in Georgia catapulted him into the position of majority leader right before now-President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

Since then, it has been a quite a ride for the Brooklynite. He was critical in passage of the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the Inflation Reduction Act, in addition to moving through dozens of judicial nominees — including the successful confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court — all in an evenly-split Senate.

And last November, Democrats flipped the open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania being vacated by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, securing a 51-49 majority headed into the new Congress.

As he surpasses 42 years on Capitol Hill, Schumer is poised to exert even greater influence not just within the Democratic Party but across the country.

Schumer spent 18 years in the House of Representatives.Chuck SchumerThen-Rep. Charles Schumer of New York speaks at a ceremony unveiling the first Holocaust exhibit to ever go on display at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 29, 1986.


After serving in the New York State Assembly from 1975 to 1980, Schumer was elected to represent a Brooklyn and Queens-anchored congressional district in 1980, succeeding the trailblazing Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman.

Schumer began his eighteen-year stint in the House of Representatives in January 1981.

Schumer joined the upper chamber in 1999.SchumerThen-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, lawyer Marc Kasowitz, center, and Schumer react to the crowd’s applause during a discussion of the senator’s new book “Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time,” in Manhattan on February 25, 2007.

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

In 1998, Schumer defeated longtime Republican Sen. Alfonse “Al” D’Amato, a political institution in the state, by 11 points.

With his win, both Senate seats would be controlled by Democrats for the first time in decades.

Schumer would go on to serve alongside Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan for two years; Moynihan was succeeded by Hillary Clinton in 2001.

The Brooklynite would later be easily re-elected to the Senate in 2004, 2010, 2016, and 2022.


Schumer’s ascent within Democratic leadership began in 2007.Chuck Schumer Harry ReidSchumer, second from left, along with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, second from right, and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, far right, hold a news conference on Capitol Hill on July 16, 2014.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In 2007, Schumer became vice chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and also served as chair of the Rules Committee from 2009 to 2015.

From 2007 to 2015, Democrats controlled the Senate, with then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada at the helm.

Schumer had a strong working relationship with President Barack Obama and has long had a friendship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Schumer became Senate Democratic leader in 2017.Chuck SchumerSchumer responds to the release of the GOP health care bill at the Capitol on June 22, 2017.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Schumer succeeded Reid as Senate Democratic leader in 2017, right as Donald Trump assumed the presidency.

The next four years would be occupied with battles over tax policy, judicial nominations, health care reform, and the administration’s foreign policy agenda.

Schumer became majority leader of the upper chamber in January 2021.Chuck SchumerSchumer gestures at a conference on Capitol Hill.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

After the dual Georgia runoff victories of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in January 2021, Democrats had 50 Senate seats — and along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote — and therefore controlled the upper chamber.

Schumer would now be able to control the floor agenda of the Senate, and along with Biden’s 2020 win over Trump and then-Democratic control of the House, the party would have unified government in the nation’s capitol.

In 2021 and 2022, the party passed a key coronavirus funding bill, landmark infrastructure legislation, and the Inflation Reduction Act — which contained climate provisions long sought by progressives.

Schumer is headed into 2023 with a bolstered Democratic majority.Schumer JeffriesRep. Hakeem Jeffries and Sen. Chuck Schumer visit Luna Park on the opening day of the season at Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 2, 2022.

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Schumer is headed into January 2023 with a 51-49 Senate majority.

(Despite Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona recently leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent, she will continue to receive her committee assignments through her former party, with the lawmaker indicating that her legislative “behavior” would not dramatically shift.)

While Republicans flipped the House in the 2022 midterms, they will have razor-thin majority.

With Pelosi’s departure from leadership in January, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn native, will soon become House Democratic leader.

Read the original article on Business Insider