US Senate: Temporarily Having the Majority, Will McConnell and the GOP Actually Use It?

Let it be known up-front, I hold zero ill-will towards Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), who recently suffered a stroke and now may be absent from the US Senate for possibly upwards of six-weeks.

I wish the man well and hope for his speedy recovery.

But as London’s the Daily Mail reporter Geoff Earle notes, albeit only temporary, the GOP finds itself sitting in the catbird seat (emphasis mine_;

The Senate’s majority Democrats will have to function for more than a month without Sen. Ben Ray Luján as the New Mexico senator recovers from a stroke he suffered last week, according to a timeline put out by his office.

He plans to return to the Senate in four to six weeks, a senior aide in the 49-year-old senator’s office said Wednesday – which would be two weeks after President Joe Biden self-imposed deadline for announcing a nominee to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The four to six month timeframe is barring any complications, the aide told the Associated Press.

So as things stand at this moment, the Republicans have a 50-49 majority in the upper chamber, effectively nullifying any Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote.

But what happens if Luján retires for health reasons?

According to New Mexico state law, (Chapter 1. Elections § 1-15-14) in the case of a US senate vacancy, the governor (a Democrat) can appoint a temporary senator, but for only 30 days.

Within the original date of said vacancy, the state must hold a special election within the same 30 days.

With New Mexico somewhat of a purple state, the Republicans very well could take that seat for the remainder of the year.

In the meantime, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was eventually asked about Luján’s temporary absence and what it may mean to the Biden agenda.

Just my personal opinion, but it sure seems to me that Psaki succeeded in two objectives;

  • Give a nonsensical word salad response instead of a legitimate answer

  • Essentially give the reporter short shrift, then quickly call on someone else

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