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Luján Greeted With Standing Ovation on Senate Return

March 3, 2022 by Dan McCue
<strong></img>Luján Greeted With Standing Ovation on Senate Return</strong>
Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., back at work Thursday morning.

WASHINGTON —  Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., returned to work in the Senate chamber Thursday and was greeted with a bipartisan standing ovation as he took his place at a morning hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. 

Looking well and sporting a new buzz cut, the senator blinked away a few tears as he thanked his colleagues for their support.

“It’s an absolute honor to be back,” he said.

“Every one of you that sent me notes, that sent videos, and all the prayers — it worked,” Luján added as he broke into a warm smile.

Elected to the Senate in 2020 after serving five terms in the House, Luján is a popular and respected presence on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., spoke for many at the hearing when she said, “We love you, Ben Ray, and we’re glad you’re with us here today.” 

Luján suffered a stroke while visiting his home state in late January. 

After experiencing dizziness and fatigue, he checked himself into CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was then transferred to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for further evaluation, his chief of staff, Carlos Sanchez, said in a written statement.

“Sen. Luján was found to have suffered a stroke in the cerebellum, affecting his balance,” the statement said. “As part of his treatment plan, he subsequently underwent decompressive surgery to ease swelling.”

Luján’s health emergency stunned his colleagues and temporarily weakened Democrats’ hold on power in the equally divided Senate.

Lujan told reporters after the committee hearing that he expects to fully participate in Senate business going forward.

“We were going to come last week, but everyone said, you know, you need to get a little stronger, just get better and take care of yourself,” he said. “The compromise was, let’s get back this week, and I said, ‘Okay.’”

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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