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Chuck Schumer

Wacky Thursday in the Senate

The Senate is back today for two votes on nominations, and leaders in both parties are bracing for potentially dozens of absences ahead of a scheduled two-week recess.

Wednesday’s Juneteenth holiday prompted several senators to skip town for the week, even though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer teed up votes for today’s session.

The Senate will vote at 11:30 a.m. on confirming Stephanie Sullivan to be the U.S. representative to the African Union. Sullivan got some GOP support on a cloture vote earlier this month, so the confirmation vote might not cause a lot of worry among Democratic leaders.

But that vote should serve as an attendance check for Democratic leadership ahead of the final vote of the day at 1:45 p.m. — a cloture vote on Nancy Maldonado’s nomination to serve as a circuit court judge for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Maldonado got a few GOP votes when she was confirmed as a district court judge in 2022, although it’s possible that Schumer may need to cancel the vote if more Republicans are present than Democrats.

Schumer already had to do this on Tuesday with Mustafa Kasubhai’s District Court nomination, which has no Republican support. Overall attendance was fine, but there were more Democratic absences than GOP no-shows. So Schumer will need to bring up Kasubhai’s nomination another time.

Looking ahead: After the two-week recess, the Senate will return on July 8 for just one week because the following week is the GOP convention in Milwaukee.

So there’s precious little floor time left this summer, with the August recess looming.

We already know that Schumer is planning to hold a vote on legislation codifying a federal right to abortion during the first week back in July. This is a continuation of Schumer’s effort to put Republicans in a difficult political spot on issues related to reproductive rights.

There’s also the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pressing for floor time on. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the bill last week by a vote of 22-3, although there are lingering questions about whether appropriators will be able to heed the $25 billion Pentagon increase that’s included in the bill.

— Andrew Desiderio

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