Illness reminds Democrats they have no votes to spare

In December of that year, Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota, suffered a brain hemorrhage, jeopardizing the newly won slim Dem...


In December of that year, Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota, suffered a brain hemorrhage, jeopardizing the newly won slim Democratic majority. Although he was gone for months, Mr Johnson finally returned the following autumn and was re-elected in 2008 despite continuing health problems.

In another recent case, Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, had a stroke in January 2012 and was gone almost an entire year. No obligation exists for senators to step down for health reasons if they choose not to, and there are many previous cases of ill senators being away from Washington for long periods of time, forcing their colleagues to sit down. adapt accordingly.

With Democrats able to endorse a nominee on their own with their 50-vote majority, Republicans have so far signaled they don’t intend to dig too hard against the choice, allowing them to show that Supreme Court confirmations can be done without becoming hyperpartisan spectacles. But any uncertainty about the Democrats’ ability to produce 50 sure votes could quickly change that math and give Republicans more leverage over the candidate and the proceedings themselves.

Based on what has happened in the past, Republicans will err on the side of caution, not wanting to be seen as trying to take advantage of a colleague’s illness and acknowledging that, like many things in the Senate, the roles can quickly turn.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and Minority Leader, said the entire Senate was “praying and pulling” for Mr. Luján and that it “was encouraging to read that our friend and colleague is expected to recover completely”. .”

Although Mr. Luján’s medical problem is more serious, the Senate has already faced frequent absences this year as members have had to deal with positive coronavirus tests and family problems, forcing the leaders of the two parties to closely monitor attendance to guide their schedules. Mr. Luján’s state of health and the approach of a Supreme Court debate have now brought these issues into the spotlight.

“That’s exactly what we experience every day in a 50-50 Senate,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan. “We are all human beings, and something can happen to anyone at any time.”

Emily Cochrane and Annie Karni contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Illness reminds Democrats they have no votes to spare
Illness reminds Democrats they have no votes to spare
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