Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) was hospitalized Tuesday with no timetable for return after undergoing brain surgery to relieve swelling following a stroke.
Luján, 49, is at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where he had “decompressive surgery to ease swelling,” according to a statement from his chief of staff, Carlos Sanchez, who also said the senator’s stroke was impacting his balance.
“He is currently being cared for at UNM Hospital, resting comfortably, and expected to make a full recovery,” Sanchez said.
Luján won his Senate seat in 2020 after having served in the House since 2009.
It is unknown when Luján will be able to return to the Senate to cast crucial votes in the split 50/50 senate. But until he returns, Senate Democrats no longer have Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote to pass radical, partisan legislation.
Luján’s absence will impact what Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) can accomplish without a working majority. Schumer can only hold votes on which he has clear bipartisan support, meaning Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) “virtual veto on legislation now extends to the executive calendar as well,” Punchbowl News reported.
“We’re all praying for Ben Ray and his family,” Schumer stated. “We look forward to his quick return to the Senate, and I believe the Senate will be able to carry forward with its business.”
With Schumer unable to assemble a majority, the likelihood of passing the Democrats’ USICA/America COMPETES bill is far lower. That legislation is designed to increase funding for semiconductor research, but much of the funding would go to institutions vulnerable to Chinese espionage.
Schumer will likely need a working majority in late March or early April to confirm President Biden’s pending Supreme Court nominee.
Biden will put forth his nomination before the end of February, after which time the nominee will be grilled in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee before proceeding to a full Senate vote.