Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan Suffers Stroke

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan was hospitalized on Thursday, Jan. 27 due to a stroke, a top aide announced.

“Early Thursday morning, Sen. Lujan began experiencing dizziness and fatigue. He checked himself into Christus St. Vincent Regional Hospital in Santa Fe. He was then transferred to UNM Hospital in Albuquerque for further evaluation. Sen. Lujan was found to have suffered a stroke in the cerebellum, affecting his balance. As part of his treatment plan, he subsequently underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling,” Chief of Staff Carlos Sanchez said in a statement.

Lujan is expected to make a full recovery, Sanchez added.

With Lujan absent, Democrats will have to wait to confirm several executive and judicial branch nominees, unless Republicans pledge to support them. Although the House of Representatives allows absent members to vote by proxy, the Senate prohibits the practice. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer filed cloture motions to confirm 20 appointees on Jan. 20, and only one has been confirmed. (RELATED: Ahead Of Holiday, Senate Confirms Dozens Of Biden Nominees)

Left wing operatives have expressed concern that the death or extended absence of one Democratic senator could create another roadblock to passing President Joe Biden’s agenda. Six Democratic-aligned senators are over the age of 75, and three of the six represent states with a Republican governor. At age 49, Lujan is the fifth-youngest Senate Democrat.

“I don’t think it’s uncouth to talk about it. I think it’s a reality that has to inform the urgency with which we approach those issues,” former Schumer aide Brian Fallon, who chairs the left-wing group Demand Justice, said in May 2021. “If somebody is laid up or is hospitalized for a long period of time and their vote’s not there, then having the majority is somewhat meaningless.”