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Former POTUS candidate Martin O’Malley gets confirmed despite attendance woes

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The Senate late Monday confirmed former Democratic presidential candidate and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to lead the Social Security Administration amid extremely weak attendance.

The vote was 50-11, with 39 senators absent for the chamber’s first vote the week before Christmas as lawmakers continue working on an international aid and border security supplemental package.

Longtime Senate reporters and procedural experts called it the worst attendance for a vote that they could recall for at least the last two decades.

“Governor Martin O’Malley is the strong operational leader that the Social Security Administration needs right now,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on the floor. “I saw his hands-on approach first-hand.”

Republicans objected to President Joe Biden’s decision to remove the last Senate-confirmed leader of the agency, Trump-appointed Andrew Saul, prior to the completion of Saul’s six-year term.

What’s next? Majority Leader Chuck Schumer teed up five votes on nominations on Tuesday afternoon, including Justice Department and judicial nominations.

When one door closes… Schumer teed up votes on two nominees who would be particularly unlikely to clear the chamber with more fulsome attendance.

One — Labor Department nominee José Javier Rodríguez — failed on a procedural floor vote last month, while the other, Joe Goffman, would lead the powerful air office of the Environmental Protection Agency (Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has vowed to oppose all EPA picks.)