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Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan hospitalized after stroke

Lujan's office said he is expected to make a full recovery but did not specify when he would be back in Washington for votes.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., attends a climate change rally on Sept. 13, 2021, in Washington.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., at a climate change rally Sept. 13 in Washington.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico suffered a stroke and underwent surgery over the weekend, his office said Tuesday, adding that he is expected to make a full recovery.

Luján, 49, started to experience dizziness and fatigue on Thursday and checked himself into Christus St. Vincent regional hospital in Santa Fe. He then was transferred to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where he was found "to have suffered a stroke in the cerebellum, affecting his balance," said Carlos Sanchez, Luján's chief of staff, in a statement.

"As part of his treatment plan, he subsequently underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling," Sanchez added.

His office did not specify when the first-term senator plans to be back in Washington.

Luján's absence from the Senate means Democrats will lack the 50 members needed for any purely partisan votes.

Democrats would not need any Republican votes to confirm President Joe Biden's eventual Supreme Court nominee so long as the party is unified in its support. Biden has indicated he plans to name his pick before March.

Some Democrats said Tuesday they were still absorbing the news and had not thought about how it would impact governing in the evenly split chamber.

"We all learned about this in the last couple hours," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Tuesday afternoon. "I think it's natural for us to spend a lot of time thinking about him rather than the rest of us."

Asked how it might impact the Senate agenda, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., responded: "I honestly don't know."

"We're in a 50-50 Senate," she added. "So for any of us, at any time — we saw when a member gets Covid, what happens in terms of the schedule. So that's just what we live with every day in a 50-50 Senate."

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said, "It's just a reminder that in a 50-50 Senate any unexpected development could be a challenge to our moving forward on an agenda that the Democratic caucus shares."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., indicated Luján's absence would not disrupt any plans.

“First, we are all praying for Ben and his family. We are all grateful that he will have a full recovery," he told reporters. "We look forward to his quick return to the Senate, and I believe the Senate will be able to carry forward with its business."