The Democratic Party has a slim majority in the Senate. Unfortunately, news of a lawmaker’s illness may impact the entire balance and a crucial vote for President Joe Biden.
Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico was hospitalized last week after having a stroke, Fox News reported. Though Luján is expected to make a full recovery, his prolonged absence could impact Biden’s ability to nominate a new Supreme Court justice.
The 49-year-old lawmaker checked himself into a local hospital last week after experiencing fatigue and dizziness. According to his chief of staff, Carlos Sanchez, Luján was later transferred to UNM Hospital in Albuquerque.
“Senator Luján was found to have suffered a stroke in the cerebellum, affecting his balance,” Sanchez said. “As part of his treatment plan, he subsequently underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling,” he said of the procedure that involves removing part of the skull to allow the brain to swell.
The Democratic lawmaker will likely be away from the Capitol for four to six weeks. This development comes just as Biden has the opportunity to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who will retire at the end of the current court session — and will need all of the votes he can get with a 50-50 tie in the Senate.
However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) isn’t concerned about the delay in the vote. “Sen. Luján’s absence is not expected to affect the Senate’s timeline for moving a SCOTUS nominee,” a spokesperson for Schumer told Fox News Digital in a statement.
Biden will likely make good on a campaign promise to nominate a black woman for the job if and when he has the opportunity to put forth his candidate, The Hill reported. As Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz rightly pointed out, this strategy of choosing a nominee based on race and gender is insulting to all candidates, including the one picked based on outward appearance.
Regardless of party affiliation, there’s no reason to rejoice when a relatively young man like Luján suffers a major medical setback. However, the fact that one lawmaker’s absence means so much underscores how important the 2022 midterm elections will be for Democrats to maintain their majority.