Republicans will maintain influence over the Democratic-controlled Senate this week with Sens. John Fetterman (D-Penn), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Dick Durbin medically inactive.
With three Democratic senators sidelined, Republicans have the ability to force some Senate maneuvers that some Democrats, such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-Va.) or Kirsten Sinema (AZ-Democrat), would support.
In recent weeks, Senate Republicans have stepped up a degree of pressure on Democrats by using “privileged resolutions” that bypass Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) approval to attend. Once on the ground, privileged decisions only require a simple majority to pass.
If Manchin or Sinema vote with the Republicans, the Democrat-controlled Senate will be overwhelmed by lawmakers’ medical absences. This maneuver will put President Joe Biden in a political corner that may force him to use the veto pen.
Republican influence appears to have improved since last week. On Sunday, Durbin announced that he had contracted the coronavirus while being “fully vaccinated and strengthened.” The absence of Durbin, who was joined by Fetterman due to depression and Feinstein recovering from a case of shingles, would enable Republicans to maintain influence over the chamber.
This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted and have only mild symptoms. I will quarantine per CDC guidelines and follow my doctor’s advice while I continue to work remotely.
Senator Dick Durbin March 19, 2023
the hill Additional nominations that have been deferred have reported:
Among the candidates who have been delayed is Charnelle Pilkingren, who was selected by President Biden to serve as a district court judge in the Eastern District of Washington. Pilkengren was a target of GOP opposition after she bogged down some questions during her confirmation hearing.
The committee also postponed a vote to nominate Orelia Merchant for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn and other nominees for the New Jersey trial court seats.
Democrats have an 11-10 advantage in the committee, but are unable to field their nominees without Feinstein or win GOP support for any individual candidate.
It is not known when Fetterman and Feinstein will return to work, but media reports indicate that they will not be back this week.
FLASHBACK: John Fetterman claims doctors said he’s ‘all ready’ to become a senator
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