Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) suffered a stroke last week and was hospitalized after undergoing surgery after that. He is expected to make a full recovery and resume his duties in the Senate in four to six weeks. However, his absence stands to interrupt the Democratic majority in the Senate at least temporarily. While he is away from work, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has only 49 Democratic votes to rely upon.
On Tuesday, Sen. Luján’s chief of staff Carlos Sanchez issued a statement explaining that the senator began to feel ill last Thursday with dizziness and fatigue. Luján, 49, checked into CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Hospital in Santa Fe and was transferred to UNM Hospital in Albuquerque.
It was determined there that he had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum and underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling in his head. He remains hospitalized at the UNM facility.
Some have speculated this week that Luján’s illness could be related to the experimental COVID-19 vaccination shots. He is a strong public proponent of universal vaccinations. He has repeatedly told his social media followers and constituents to get three doses of the vaccines.
No medical information about the specifics of the senator’s condition has been released. Still, federal agencies have reportedly been aware of possible blood clotting complications from the vaccines that might lead to strokes. The Food and Drug Administration paused the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last April because of some “infrequent” blood clotting effects in some patients.
There have since been 5,350 reports of thrombocytopenia/low platelet effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as of January 21. Those effects have been shown to include strokes and heart attacks as possible complications.
Sen. Luján’s medical absence from the Senate could create unexpected delays and other problems for Democratic plans already being sent off course. While Luján is away, party-line votes are likely doomed to failure for Schumer.
Joe Biden has reaffirmed his promise to appoint a Black woman to retire Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Whether or not Luján’s illness will lead to delays or other problems for Biden’s nominee, the pick is likely to be the center of controversy leading into the midterm elections this fall. Last week, an ABC/Ipsos poll indicated that fully 76 percent of Americans oppose a nomination process that fails to consider all qualified candidates, regardless of race or gender.