U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján said on Sunday that he expects to make a full recovery and return to Washington, D.C. for work soon. Luján suffered a stroke late last month and underwent surgery to ease swelling on his brain. In a video posted on social media, Luján said he expects to return “in just a few short weeks,” in time to consider a Supreme Court nominee.
“I’m doing well,” he said in the video, where he was flanked on either side by two of his doctors. “I’m strong. I’m back on the road to recovery, and I’m going to make a full recovery. I’m going to walk out of here. I’m going to beat this, and I’m going to be stronger once I come out.”
“Let me begin by expressing my thanks for the outpouring of support my family and I have received from across New Mexico and around America,” he continued. “From my neighbors in Nambé to colleagues in Washington, D.C., your prayers, your words, your daily videos, your words of encouragement have been so reassuring and have given me a lot of strength.”
Luján, who served as representative from New Mexico’s 3rd District since 2009 before defeating Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti in the 2020 Senate race, said that he plans to complete his recovery at an in-patient rehabilitation facility following his discharge from the University of New Mexico Hospital. He said “that’s going to take a few more weeks.”
“Now, I’m proud to report, then I’ll be back on the floor of the United States Senate in just a few short weeks to vote on important legislation, and to consider a Supreme Court nominee,” Luján continued.
”Now, rest assured, New Mexicans can know they will have a voice and a vote during this process. That has never changed. Now throughout my recovery, my Senate office has remained open, and we’ve been working to provide constituent services throughout New Mexico during this entire time. It’s a priority of mine, as you know, it will always be a priority—that will never change. Again, thank you for your prayers, for your well wishes for a speedy recovery.”
Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter noted earlier this month that Luján’s absence meant that a number of issues were now on hold in the 50-50 Senate. That possibly included the confirmation of a nominee to replace associate justice Stephen Breyer, who officially announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Jan. 27.
“Luján is not on the Senate Judiciary Committee, so his absence would not affect the committee’s ability to vet the nominee and hold confirmation hearings, which probably would take at least two weeks after the announcement,” The Washington Post reports. The outlet reports that, unlike the House, the Senate does not allow proxy voting. President Biden has not yet announced his selection, though U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court justice Leondra Kruger have emerged as possible nominees.
The physicians in Luján’s video note how critically important it was that the junior senator quickly sought medical care after experiencing symptoms last month. Luján’s office said that he’d checked himself into hospital after experiencing dizziness and fatigue. “Other signs of a possible stroke include sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, facial weakness, arm weakness, and impaired speech,” The Washington Post noted.
“It is crucial for us to work and educate the community about the signs of stroke,” Dr. Michel Torbey, chair of the UNM neurology department, said in the video. “Identifying those signs and acting on them quickly could save your life and the life of a loved one.”