Tags: pat leahy | vermont | democrats | senate | phil scott | gop

Leahy's Health Won't Change Democrat Control of Senate

pat leahy in a suit and red and blue striped tie
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (Tom Williams/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 28 January 2021 06:27 AM Current | Bio | Archive

For a few brief hours Tuesday, when Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., was hospitalized after his first day of presiding over the Senate's impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, a sense of uncertainty about the Democrat control was clearly felt on Capitol Hill.

If there was something serious enough to force the ailing Leahy, 80, to leave office, several speculated, would Vermont's Gov. Phil Scott appoint a fellow Republican to the Senate seat and thus tip control of the Senate to the GOP by one seat? This would give Republicans 51 seats to Democrats' 49 instead of the present 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

As it turned out, Leahy quickly recovered and was back at the Senate Wednesday looking no worse for the wear.

But should any ailment lead to his resignation, it is unlikely control of the Senate would change. His Republican association notwithstanding, Scott has made it clear he would follow the tradition of naming someone from the same party as the outgoing senator.

When rumors began in December that the Green Mountain State's other senator, Bernie Sanders, would resign to become secretary of labor, Scott told reporters he would name a "progressive independent" — namely someone like Sanders, who has always been a registered independent elected with Democrats giving him their ballot line.

"Vermont's tradition is to fill a vacancy by asking the relevant committee of the party of the former officeholder to make recommendations and select from that list," former Vermont Republican Gov. Jim Douglas told Newsmax.

Douglas, who was Leahy's Republican opponent in 1992, added, "I assume that our congressman [Democrat Peter Welch] would be a likely pick, although we're the only state that has never sent a woman to Congress.

"It would be nice to break out of that status, but I'm not sure that there's a choice strong enough to bump Rep. Welch."

Under Vermont law, a special election would take place no later than six months after there is a U.S. Senate vacancy.

Elected to the Senate at age 34 in a startling upset, Leahy is now, after 47 years, the fifth longest-serving U.S. senator in history. Were he to seek a ninth term next year, win, and serve out his term, he would break the record of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., as the longest-serving senator (51 years).

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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For a few brief hours Tuesday, when Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., was hospitalized after his first day of presiding over the Senate's impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, a sense of uncertainty about the Democrat control was clearly felt on Capitol Hill. If there was...
pat leahy, vermont, democrats, senate, phil scott, gop
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2021-27-28
Thursday, 28 January 2021 06:27 AM
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