Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) remains hospitalized after suffering a stroke and is expected to make a full recovery. While his colleagues were relieved to hear the news, many of them–including top-ranking members–were unaware he had fallen ill last Thursday, and now his four-week convalescence may impact President Joe Biden’s agenda, including the confirmation of his Supreme Court pick.
Without Luján’s presence, the party no longer has full day-to-day control of what has been an evenly split Senate, leaving other big priorities and even routine Senate and committee business at risk in the face of Republican objections.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who went to the White House later Wednesday to discuss the court nominee with Biden, spoke of the “awful, frightening” situation, but remained hopeful that Luján, one of the chamber’s youngest members, would be “back to his old self” before too long and the Senate would carry on with its business. Schedules were being rearranged Wednesday, as the Senate Commerce Committee announced it would be postponing consideration of some of President Biden’s executive branch nominees because the panel, on which Sen. Luján is a member, needs all Democrats for the votes. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the panel is planning to push ahead with consideration of President Biden’s Supreme Court pick as soon as the President announces his nominee, expected later this month.
With Democrat Sen. Ben Ray Luján absent from the Senate for four to six weeks, how does this effect the confirmation of a justice to the Supreme Court? @MacFarlaneNews explains. pic.twitter.com/J8ITtvqcgN
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 3, 2022
Asked if progress on the President’s agenda could be imperiled, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “Life is precious,” and noted the average age of senators (64). “I would just say we spend most of our time engaging in good faith about the president’s agenda, and not making those calculations,” Psaki said.
‘Life is precious’ — The White House sent well wishes to Sen. Ben Ray Luján, who is recovering from a stroke, and responded to questions on the ‘critical’ 50-50 split in the Senate pic.twitter.com/fLwGKgm8fM
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 2, 2022
Luján’s condition appears serious, but also improving. He is expected to be out for at least a month, according to a Democrat familiar with the situation who discussed it with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Ease up folks! If Sen Ben Lujan of New Mexico should leave the Senate midterm, the current governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, a DEMOCRAT will appoint a replacement until the nxt statewide election. Our Dem majority, thin tho it is, is safe. Prayers for Sen Lujan's fast recovery!
— Jerry Sipe (@Jerrysipe3) February 2, 2022