Ever since the 2020 Election, we’ve talked about the 50-50 split Senate. This unusual situation gives both parties an even number of votes. But, because Kamala Harris is the “vice president,” Democrats have a sort of pseudo-majority. In the event of a 50-50 tie, she can cast a vote to break it.
That doesn’t give Democrats as much power as you think. We’ve seen their plans fail when just one Democrat refuses to vote their way (see: Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema). If they lose a single senator, they are no longer in charge. This week, we are learning about some shocking news that leaves Senate Democrats reeling.
From The Hill:
Through his office, Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) on Tuesday disclosed that he suffered a stroke on Thursday last week and underwent “decompressive surgery to ease swelling” in his brain. According to Carlos Sanchez, Luján’s chief of staff, the New Mexico Democrat remains hospitalized…
…his absence presents potential near-term trouble for Senate Democrats. They are down a vote in the evenly divided chamber for the immediate future. While Luján’s representatives say the senator is expected to make a “full recovery,” it is unknown when he might return to Washington, leaving Democrats unable to advance nominees or legislation that could require Vice President Harris to cast a tie-breaking vote. Unlike in the House, senators must vote in person.
Just as talk of a new Supreme Court Justice is firing up, Democrats lose a member of their party in the Senate. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat senator from New Mexico, suffered a stroke and was forced to undergo surgery. While it has been reported he will recover, he is currently unable to return to work in D.C.
This means, Democrats only have 49 votes in the Senate. Kamala Harris’ vote only matters in the case of a tie. So, for the time being, Democrats will be unable to advance presidential nominees or legislation without Republican support. And we know Schumer and his allies have refused to work with Republicans for a long time.
Already, Luján’s absence is having consequences. Nominees that were going to be voted on, with Luján’s support, have been yanked from consideration. Luján might be out longer than expected. In 2006, Sen. Tim Johnson was out for nine months after suffering a stroke. And in 2013, Sen. Mark Kirk needed an entire year to recover.
What matters most, hopefully, for Democrats and Luján is his recovery. There is no need to rush through his treatment and eventually rehabilitation, just to get him back to D.C. Chances are, Schumer will stall and delay business, hoping to wait out Luján. But that will only serve to hurt Democrats even more, as America watches them waste more time.
Republicans, on the other hand, will push to get work done.
Source: The Hill