Senate Democrats were stunned after learning on Tuesday that their colleague, Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), 49, suffered a stroke and had to be rushed to the hospital for life-saving treatment.
According to Politico, while the New Mexico senator is expected to make a full recovery, according to the latest updates, his hospitalization situation means that Senate Democrats will not have — at least temporarily — a working majority in the upper chamber, as the Senate doesn’t have the remote voting capability that the House does.
While everyone in the Senate obviously wishes for a full recovery for the relatively young senator, the situation couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Senate Democrats, who now face the possibility of a Supreme Court confirmation process, with potentially only 49 maximum votes for whomever President Joe Biden nominates.
The situation’s bottom line means that Democrats — and President Joe Biden — will have to lean on Republicans to garner any needed votes.
With SCOTUS confirmation coming, Senate Dems more worried than usual. One illness could wreck their plans in 50-50 Senate. Then Dem Sen Lujan suffered a stroke. Hopefully he is well, will return, but party is terrified. From @politico: https://t.co/vwsy9Q9Amk
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 2, 2022
That’s not to mention that the temporary power loss means that any single legislative item from the president or the party will be put on hold until Luján is well enough to return to work.
“It’s devastating. And the only silver lining is that there’ll be a path to a full recovery,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CN), of Luján’s diagnosis. “What a shock on an otherwise quiet afternoon.”
Only time will tell how the situation develops, but Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) told reporters that she expects the senator to be out of the hospital fairly quickly, and doesn’t believe it will cause any major disruptions to Senate business for the Democrats.
“He should be out pretty quickly,” Duckworth said. “It shouldn’t affect the agenda too much. … The key thing is that they recognized the symptoms fairly quickly.”