US Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico announced Tuesday that he “suffered a stroke in the cerebellum” last week but is expected to make a full recovery.
Luján began experiencing dizziness and fatigue on Thursday, and checked himself into Christus St. Vincent Regional Hospital before being transferred to the University of New Mexico Hospital, according to a statement from Luján’s chief of staff posted to the Democrat’s Twitter account.
“As part of his treatment plan, he subsequently underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling,” the statement said. “He is currently being cared for at UNM hospital, resting comfortably, and expected to make a full recovery.”
Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted, “Sending all my best to @SenatorLujan and his family.”
“Ben Ray is a tough norteño and I know he’ll be back on the Senate floor fighting for New Mexico families in no time – all of New Mexico is wishing him a speedy and full recovery.”
Luján’s health scare underscores the fragility of Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate. With his absence, the Democratic caucus could face difficulties in advancing party-line votes and nominations – like President Joe Biden’s forthcoming Supreme Court nominee.
Senate Democrats will need 51 votes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, which would require all 50 members of the caucus to coalesce behind Biden’s pick with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie if no Republicans support the nominee.
Biden said last month he will make his selection for the Supreme Court before the end of February, though since Luján does not serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, his absence would not affect Democrats’ immediate work after Biden announces his pick. The Tuesday statement did not specify when Luján is expected to return.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, whose responsibility it is to ensure Democrats have enough votes to pass legislation and confirm nominees, had been unaware that Luján had suffered a stroke until reporters told him late Tuesday afternoon.
“Oh, my God, I didn’t know that,” Durbin responded, adding that it wasn’t clear how Luján’s absence could impact the vote schedule on the floor.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, “First, we are all praying for Ben Ray and his family. We are all grateful that he will have a full recovery.”
“We look forward to his quick return to the Senate, and I believe the Senate will be able to carry forward with its business,” the New York Democrat added.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware similarly said, “Today we should be focused on Ben Ray’s health and his family and his recovery,” but called the development “a reminder that in a 50-50 Senate with important work in front of us, any unforeseen or difficult developments can make that harder.”
This story has been updated with additional information Tuesday.
CNN’s Ted Barrett, Ali Zaslav, Jessica Dean, Lauren Fox, and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.