Hospitalizations Impact Power Balance in Senate

March 3, 2023

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was hospitalized Thursday after the 89-year-old was diagnosed with shingles.

News of her hospitalization comes roughly two weeks after another Senate Democrat, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, checked himself into the hospital with clinical depression.

Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 lead in the chamber, meaning that the absence the two Senators has impacted their ability to pass votes.

Twice this week Vice President Harris, in her role as President of the Senate, has had to travel to the Capitol to exercise her ability to cast three tie-breaking votes. The Senate votes related to two judicial appointments. 

But even as he’s not physically present on Capitol Hill, Fetterman is having an impact. He joined his fellow Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D), as well as Ohio Senators J.D. Vance (R) along with Sherrod Brown (D), along with Senators Marco Rubio (r-FL) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) in co-authoring a bill that the group introduced this week aimed at strengthening rail safety following the East Palestine, Ohio disaster.

Meanwhile, the Senate still faces close votes in confirming the Biden Administration’s judicial and administrative nominations, including former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination as Ambassador to India, and former California labor chief Julie Su, whom Biden tapped this week to be the next Labor Secretary.

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