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Senate Absences Snarl Democrats’ Plans for a Quick Return to Business

Still, Monday was supposed to be the beginning of a five-week burst of exercise earlier than the Senate adjourns for its annual summer time break in August, and the longest such stretch earlier than the midterm elections in November.

The prolonged absence of Mr. Leahy, coupled with the coronavirus circumstances, underscored the fragility of the 50-50 majority within the Senate, the place there may be at all times a concern that any of the celebration’s half-dozen octogenarians may fall ailing and endure a extended absence that would imperil or delay Democratic laws or presidential appointments that haven’t any Republican assist.

In February, Senator Ben Ray Luján, 49, Democrat of New Mexico, suffered a stroke. Although he recovered shortly, his sickness served as a reminder that Democrats are by no means multiple sudden sickness away from shedding their working majority.

And whereas Covid circumstances in Congress appeared to have subsided considerably in current months, extra lawmakers — like many different Americans — have lately been reporting circumstances as a new variant, the most transmissible yet, rips by means of the United States.

In the House, Representative Katie Porter, Democrat of California, mentioned on Monday that she had examined optimistic after being uncovered whereas working in her house state. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has prolonged proxy voting, which she instituted within the House at first of the pandemic, by means of Aug. 12, allowing lawmakers to proceed to vote remotely.

In the Senate, Democratic aides had been keen to play down the importance of the post-recess absences and diseases, and mentioned enterprise would proceed virtually as standard.

“Anyone who knows Leader Schumer knows that even if he’s not physically in the Capitol, through virtual meetings and his trademark flip phone, he will continue with his robust schedule and remain in near-constant contact with his colleagues,” his spokesman, Justin Goodman, mentioned in a assertion.

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