Absences force Senate to punt vote on Biden nominee

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Greg Nash

Absences forced Democrats on Tuesday to punt a vote on a Biden White House nominee, underscoring the razor-thin status of Democrats’ majority. 

The Senate had been expected to hold an initial vote on Kiran Ahuja’s nomination to be director of the Office of Personnel Management. If she had overcome the hurdle, a final vote to confirm her was expected for Tuesday afternoon. 

But Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced shortly before the first vote that it was being delayed.  

“We have two of our members who couldn’t be here because of serious illnesses in their families. Therefore, we’re going to delay the vote,” Schumer said. 

Schumer didn’t say which members were absent, but Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) missed an earlier Senate vote on Tuesday.  

Democrats have a 50-50 majority in the Senate. That allows them to confirm nominations even if Republicans are unified in opposition, but only if they have all 50 of their members and Vice President Harris present to break a tie.  

Republicans have come out against Ahuja’s nomination, including slow-walking the Senate’s consideration on the floor. They have emphasized, in particular, her previous focus on critical race theory, an academic concept that argues racism is a social construct that heavily impacts legal systems and government policies. 

“The president’s nominee has made statements expressing sympathy for the discredited ahistorical claims about our nation’s origins that form the backbone of so-called critical race theory,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the floor on Tuesday. 

Tags Chuck Schumer Cory Booker Gary Peters Kiran Ahuja Mitch McConnell

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