Biden and the Democrats have temporarily lost their razor-thin majority in the United States Senate after a Senate Democrat suffered a stroke.
Stroke Leaves Democrat Temporarily Unable to Work
Democrat Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico has suffered a stroke.
Initial reports made it clear Lujan is expected to recover in full from the unexpected illness. However, his temporary absence has the potential to “throw in disarray” the entire legislative agenda of Biden and the Democrat Party.
According to a report by AFP, Lujan suffered a stroke at the end of last week; as his ordeal was made public on Wednesday, he was already recovering and resting.
The New Mexico Democrat had brain surgery, which relieved swelling; he is still hospitalized, according to his office. At this time, there’s no telling how long his recovery will take.
A statement issued by Carlos Sanchez, Lujan’s chief of staff, made it clear that last Thursday, he started to have symptoms, such as fatigue and dizziness.
Lujan first checked into a hospital in Santa Fe; he was later transferred to another hospital in Albuquerque for further examination of his condition.
The doctors discovered the Democrat suffered a “stroke in the cerebellum.” This led to him getting decompressive surgery.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan's stroke (get well soon) is a transformative development that not nearly enough people are concerned about. It's a preview of 2023-24's do-nothing Congress. It keeps BBB dead. It could change the Supreme Court pick.
— David Dayen (@ddayen) February 2, 2022
Biden’s Agenda Will Stall Further
Lujan’s health ordeal is thus translating into a political and legislative emergency for Senate Democrats since senators can only vote in person, unlike the setup in the House of Representatives.
Democrats are now fearful that achieving any advance whatsoever on Biden’s priorities in the Senate would prove complicated or even impossible, as a result of Lujan’s sick leave.
One of Biden and the Democrats’ upcoming legislative priorities will be the upcoming Senate confirmation of Biden’s nominee to sit on the Supreme Court in order to replace retiring Justice Breyer, who is leaving in June.
Joe Biden, who has vowed to pick a black woman to replace Breyer, made it clear he would announce his nomination by the end of February. A vote on it in the Senate can be expected at the end of March at the earliest.
However, if Lujan’s recovery isn’t completed by then, Biden would need to get at least one GOP senator to back his SCOTUS nominee.
This isn’t the first time the absence of a member of the US Senate due to illness has caused legislative headaches for congressional parties.
Back in 2006, Democrat Senator Tim Johnson, then 59, had to be absent for nine months as a result of a brain bleed.
In 2012, Republican Senator Mark Kirk suffered a stroke at 52, which caused him to be absent from the US Senate for an entire year.
In the unlikely event that Lujan cannot come back to work at all, a replacement will have to be appointed by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
New: Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, who suffered a stroke, will be back in the Senate in 4-6 weeks, "barring any complications," according to a person close to the senator.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 2, 2022
1) Fox confirms that Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) is expected to be out 4-6 weeks after suffering stroke
There is no remote voting in the Senate. So, this could put on ice any 50-50 measure in a divided Senate.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 2, 2022