Senator Ben Ray Lujan

Ben Ray Returns to Congress, Votes to Continue COVID Emergency Powers

New Mexico’s junior senator returns to DC five weeks after suffering a stroke

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan returned to Washington, DC, this week following a nearly five-week absence due to a stroke in his cerebellum that required surgery and several weeks of in-patient rehabilitation.

The New Mexico senator, who was welcomed back with a standing ovation from the Senate Commerce Committee, thanked everyone for their support, saying “It’s an absolute honor to be back. 

“To every one of you that sent me notes, that sent videos, and all the prayers: it worked, and it’s good to be back.” 

— Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)

It was the first time since Lujan’s stroke that he was seen walking and unmasked, settling speculation about the potential side effects on basic motor function that can be common after a stroke.

Lujan’s first vote upon returning to Congress was to extend emergency COVID powers for the U.S. government. Sen. Martin Heinrich also voted in favor of the extension. Neither senator issued a statement, on their websites or social media, explaining their position. 

Despite being in the majority party, New Mexico’s Democrat senators were in the minority on this particularly bill. With several absences in the Senate, it advanced on a party-line 48-47 vote. 

It is expected to die in the House, and the Biden Administration vowed to veto the bill if it passed Congress, stating that the “authorities” granted under the emergency declaration “are critical not only to continue responding to the Omicron variant, but also to be prepared to respond to potential future variants.”

Experts warn that more variants are coming, and that it is wrong to assume they will be milder than Omicron. 

“There will be more variants after Omicron and if they are more transmissible they will dominate,” according to David Nabarro, a special envoy on Covid-19 for the World Health Organization. 

“They may cause different patterns of illness, in other words they may turn out to be more lethal or have more long-term consequences.”

1 reply »

  1. Good to see he seems partially recovered. The video I’ve seen doesn’t show him walking and as he was leaving the podium, I saw uncertainty. He, of course, is a useful idiot and has my best wishes for a replacement as soon as possible. At best an Hispanic name for the DNC, others could actually contribute.

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