- The problem occurred when Chairman Orrin Hatch called a roll-call vote of the committee
- Though confirmation is expected, the 9-9 vote delayed Seema Verma's advancement
Despite the snafu, Seema Verma
is expected to be confirmed soon for the job that will give her major influence over changes to the Affordable Care Act, which are a top priority for Trump and the Republicans who lead Congress. But the committee will have to reconvene Thursday to complete its work.
The delay was unusual, and was seemingly unrelated to recent Democratic boycotts
of committee votes on Trump nominees. In this case, Republicans contributed to problem by not showing up.
The problem occurred when Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called a roll-call vote of the committee. Several senators were absent but tried to have their votes recorded by "proxy" -- which is when one senator announces what the vote of a missing senator would be. The problem is, Senate rules prohibit proxy voting on nominations.
"Mr. Chairman, the tally of the members present is 9 ayes and 9 nays. The final tally, including proxies, is 15 ayes and 11 nays," a clerk said after the vote.
"Mr. Chairman, I was under the impression that proxies don't count," responded the committee's top Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, who opposes Verma.
"Well, they don't," Hatch conceded.
"So, we're not declaring this the final vote," Wyden responded.
"No, this is not the final vote," Hatch said, with a sigh.
Verma has faced opposition from some Democrats, but at least one -- Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware -- voted for her.