Senator Padilla’s flight problems could delay Jackson vote

Sen. Alex Padilla’s flight problems could delay the Senate’s schedule for confirming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.

When the Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward with Jackson’s nomination Monday morning, the California Democrat was notably absent. With the board split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, Padilla’s vote is critical.

“Due to a medical emergency involving a passenger, Senator Padilla’s flight was reversed and returned to LAX, delaying his arrival in Washington,” a Padilla spokesman said. “He boarded the first available flight this morning and will arrive this afternoon.”

According to Flight Tracker, the flights from Los Angeles International Airport are scheduled to arrive in Washington around 4 p.m. this morning, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether Padilla was flying to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport or Washington Dulles International Airport. Reagan is only five miles from the Capitol, but Dulles is about 40 miles away.

A spokesman for the committee said the panel will await Padilla’s arrival to vote.

The evenly divided committee is expected to be stuck along partisan lines on a vote on Jackson’s promotion. An 11-11 vote would add another layer to the process of elevating Jackson to the High Court, but it likely won’t halt her rise to become the first black female judge.

The vote is followed by hours of explanations from the 22 members of the panel.

Democrats praised Jackson’s qualifications and experience, while Republicans declared their opposition.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee chair, called Monday’s vote a “historic moment for this committee and for America.”

This is the first time the panel is considering a black woman for a seat on the Supreme Court. Republicans said they might have nominated Judge Janice Rogers Brown in 2005, but Democrats expressed opposition if she were won for the Supreme Court.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), who voted to elevate Jackson to the DC Circuit less than a year ago but opposes her nomination to the Supreme Court, said “she would not have been before this committee,” if Republicans were in charge of the Senate.

A standstill on Monday would be the first time in more than three decades that the judiciary panel has split over a Supreme Court nominee. When Biden chaired the committee in September 1991, it voted 7-7 to put Clarence Thomas’ nomination on the floor with a positive recommendation. That motion failed, but the committee voted 13-1 to send the nomination to the floor without recommendation, and Thomas was confirmed 52-48 the following month.

If the committee vote is a tie, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) must introduce a relief motion to put Jackson on the executive calendar, a move that will allow the chamber the closest it can be to the nomination record day. Despite Padilla’s late arrival, that request is expected to come later on Monday.

An identical process played out with the nominations of Justice Department officials Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, as well as other justice nominees who were deadlocked in committee and awaiting confirmation.

The discharge procedure requires up to four hours of debate, divided equally between the parties, and a roll-call vote by simple majority.

Schumer is expected to file a statement on Jackson’s nomination as early as Tuesday, setting in motion up to 30 hours of debate before two more simple majority votes: one to end the debate and the other to nominate Jackson as the likely successor of Judge Stephen G. Breyer to confirm his retirement before the end of the week.

Democrats appear united in support of Jackson, and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) has announced she will vote to confirm her to ensure the final balance sheet will be bipartisan.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), two of the Republicans most likely to break ranks and join Collins, did not say how they plan to vote. Senator Padilla’s flight problems could delay Jackson vote

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