An illness reminds Democrats that they don’t have votes to back up

In December of that year, Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota, suffered a brain hemorrhage that put the fragile, newly won Democratic majority in jeopardy. Although it took 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, a Republican from Illinois, suffered a stroke in January 2012 and has been gone for nearly a year. There is no requirement for senators to waive health grounds if they do not, and there have been many previous instances of ailing senators leaving Washington for extended periods of time, forcing colleagues to Theirs must be adjusted accordingly.

With Democrats able to approve a candidate with a majority of their 50 votes on their own, Republicans have so far signaled that they have no intention of digging deep against the choice, allowing them to demonstrate that it is possible to proceed with Supreme Court confirmation without becoming party tempered. But any uncertainty over the Democrats’ ability to generate 50 votes could certainly quickly change that calculation and give Republicans more leverage over the nominee and themselves too. proceedings.

Building on what has happened in the past, Republicans will tread cautiously, not wanting to be seen as trying to take advantage of a colleague’s illness, and realize that like so many things in the Senate, the situation can be quickly rotated.

On Wednesday, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and minority leader, said that the entire Senate is “praying and pulling” for Luján and that “it is encouraging to read that friends and Our colleague is expected to make a full recovery. . ”

Although Mr. Luján’s medical problems are more serious, the Senate has faced frequent absences this year as members deal with positive coronavirus tests and family affairs, forcing the Leaders of both sides must closely monitor attendance to guide their schedules. Mr. Luján’s status and the Supreme Court’s approach to the debate have now brought such issues to the fore.

“It’s just what we live with every day in a 50-50 Senate,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat. “We’re all human, and something can happen to someone at any time.”

Emily Cochrane and Annie Karni contribution report. An illness reminds Democrats that they don’t have votes to back up

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