Senate

Blumenthal second Democrat to miss votes with COVID, complicating Senate agenda

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speaks to reporters following the vote in the U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and codify abortion rights in the U.S. on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speaks to reporters following the vote in the U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and codify abortion rights in the U.S. on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced Monday that he will miss Senate votes this week because of a positive COVID-19 test, complicating Democrats’ plans for confirming Steve Dettelbach to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Unfortunately, I’ve tested positive for COVID. So this week, I’ll be working remotely. I’m not experiencing symptoms & am thankful to be fully vaccinated & boosted,” Blumenthal said on Twitter.  

Blumenthal’s announcement comes only hours after Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced he would miss votes this week because of his own positive COVID-19 diagnosis.  

That means Democrats will be without two members of their caucus, while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is recovering from surgery after falling and breaking his hip last month.  

The missing members could play havoc with Schumer’s plan to confirm Dettelbach. 

Two Republicans voted to discharge Dettelbach out of the Judiciary Committee, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), which means Democrats could still confirm him with two absences when Vice President Harris is on hand to cast a tie-breaking vote.  

Three absences on the Democratic side of the aisle could complicate efforts to confirm Dettelbach, though David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy, said his boss would be available to vote this week if necessary.  

“Senator Leahy’s recovery and physical therapy are proceeding well and he expects to be available for votes this week if necessary,” the aide said.  

Leahy may not have to come to the chamber while he’s still recovering if there are any absences on the Republican side of the aisle — or if no other Democratic senator misses the vote, assuming that Collins and Portman vote to confirm Dettelbach. 

Schumer has already filed a cloture motion to end debate on Dettelbach’s nomination.  

He has also filed cloture on Ashish Vazirani to be deputy under secretary of Defense and Michael Barr to be a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors and serve as the Fed’s vice chairman of supervision.

Vazirani and Barr moved out of the Senate Armed Services and Banking committees, respectively, with bipartisan support and are expected to easily win confirmation on the Senate floor.  

Tags Biden Charles Schumer Charles Schumer COVID-19 Kamala Harris Patrick Leahy Patrick Leahy Richard Blumenthal Richard Blumenthal Rob Portman Steve Dettelbach Susan Collins
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