In hockey, it’s called a “power play.” One team gains an advantage in number of players on the ice because one or more players of the opposing team committed an infraction forcing that team to play shorthanded for a period of time. With one, or even two more players in the game than their opponents, an excellent window of opportunity is afforded to score a goal.
The U.S. Senate is about has closely divided as possible. The Republicans hold the chamber with a 52-48 majority. Actually, things are a bit better in that if a vote goes 50-50, Vice-President Pence can vote with the Republicans to break the tie. This becomes necessary because, as it has been painfully clear, not all of the Republicans are on the same page on crucial legislation.
The Republicans have picked up another numerical advantage as Democratic Senator Menendez is in the “penalty box” for a while, thus reducing the number of Democrats available for votes by one. The senator is standing trial for corruption, and the judge presiding is unwilling to allow him to leave the trial for periodic votes. That leaves Mr. Menendez out of the the game for the time being.
“The judge in New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial denied multiple requests from the senator this week — a decision that could impede his ability to cast votes in the Senate and aid the Republicans’ efforts to pass legislation on President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“Menendez’s defense team made three requests Tuesday in the corruption trial. One request was to postpone trial on the days when the Senate would be holding key votes so that the senator could attend and deliver his vote. Another was to explain to the jury why the senator would be gone on those voting days. A third was to delay the start of the trial until after the fall.
“U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls denied all three requests.”
Looking beyond the current issue of Menendez missing key Senate votes is the issue of whether he will ever come back. If convicted, he would be on his way to prison and would have to vacate his seat. That would also help the Republicans.
“Menendez faces 12 charges relating to accusations that he traded political favors for lavish gifts. He could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted on all 12 charges. In addition, if Menendez is forced to abandon his Senate seat, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie would appoint his replacement, giving the GOP another vote.”
It may not be the preferred way of gaining an additional vote advantage in the Senate, but with the Senate as closely divided as it is, and with RINOs still running loose on the Republican side of the aisle, it’s an advantage the Republicans should make the most of.