Due to the absences of Sen. John Fetterman and Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Democrats have been unable to gain a majority. As a result, Vice President Harris has had to rely on her tiebreaking vote.
This week, Harris was able to make the decisive vote on several of President Joe Biden's judicial nominees. This is a duty she took on in order to keep the vice president in Washington for two more years before the Democrats took over in 2022.
As the Senate's president, Harris was responsible for breaking ties in the chamber over and over again, which limited her travel options.
After the Democrats won the majority in November, aides thought that Harris would be freed to visit with voters and promote the administration's achievements.
A one-vote cushion helped the Democrats during the first few weeks of the new year. Historian Joel Goldstein noted that Harris no longer held the Senate calendar hostage.
After Harris's first two years in office, her supporters hoped that the upcoming 2024 elections would help her overcome the doubts about her readiness for a larger role.
However, the Democrats have been unable to gain a majority due to the health issues of two of their colleagues. The Senate is currently split 51-49 with two independents supporting the party.
Last month, Fetterman was admitted to the Walter Reed medical center for treatment of depression. He underwent a stroke a year ago.
Senator Diane Feinstein, who is 89 years old, was admitted to a hospital in San Francisco this week for treatment of shingles.
In a statement, the California senator said that she was recovering well and was looking forward to returning to the Senate this month.
Several Senate Democrats have also been dealing with health issues. One of them is Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who was able to return to the chamber this week after undergoing prostate cancer surgery.
The absences of these prominent Democrats highlight the party's precarious majority. Important votes are expected in the next few weeks, such as on Biden's pick for the US ambassador position in India.
The preceding article is a summary of an article that originally appeared on Washington Examiner