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Analysis | Full transparency on a case-by-case basis for senators’ health updates

PoliticsElectionsAnalysis | Full transparency on a case-by-case basis for senators' health updates
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Almost every time there’s an update on the president’s health, it comes from a medical expert. Such was the case earlier this month when President Biden’s longtime physician revealed he had a mild form of skin cancer removed from his chest.

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But no practice exists for members of Congress, not even the highest-ranking members of the leadership. Instead, lawmakers suffering from various ailments will often offer optimistic, but quite vague, statements about their prognosis.

“In the end, it’s going to be between that senator and their constituents, and there’s no formula, I don’t think, and I think it’s better to err on the side of transparency and provide as much information as possible,” Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA) said Tuesday.

The issue drew intense political attention last year during the Pennsylvania Senate campaign, after John Fetterman (D-PA), then a candidate, suffered a stroke and was more than two months off the campaign trail amid Republican allegations. Seemed, he was not healthy enough. Work. The issue came to the fore again last month when now-Sen. Fetterman suffered a severe battle with depression, common after a stroke, that she checked into inpatient care.

Now, after a fall last week that left him with a concussion and broken ribs, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is sidelined living in an inpatient rehabilitation center without a clear timeline for his return. joined Fetterman on the list of senators. For his duties in helping run the Senate.

The situation has left not only constituents but other senators somewhat in the dark about how their colleagues are doing.

“I texted but I, you know, I think the report is something that should come [McConnell’s] Staff,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) told reporters Monday evening, skipping a leadership meeting in McConnell’s office as he fled.

Thune acknowledged that he had not spoken verbally to the GOP leader, who spent five days in the hospital before being transferred to a rehabilitation facility.

Asked if he had updates on McConnell, the GOP’s top Senate campaign architect, Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.) replied, “No, I don’t.”

“His official office will provide updates, but I have been texting back and forth with him.”

It appears that no Senate Republicans have spoken directly to McConnell other than over text, nor have Majority Leaders Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) or Biden.

For Casey, who recently had his own surgery to battle prostate cancer, he’s doing just fine. He has had contact with Fetterman since the junior senator entered Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on February 16.

Case said, “I intentionally, intentionally didn’t call her, because she doesn’t need to talk to me on the phone.” “She should get the help she needs and get through this.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who spent five days in a California hospital for shingles, returned home on 7 March and has not returned to the Senate since then. Feinstein, 89, announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election.

Advisers to Fetterman, 53, and McConnell, 81, have issued similar statements to employees that give broad outlines but did not go into medical details about their conditions, each including a brief optimistic forecast.

“Stays on the Path to Recovery,” by Fetterman top press associate February 28 said.

“Recovery is progressing well,” of McConnell said the top press aide monday.

Fetterman’s advisors have posted photos of him with staff at Walter Reed and suggested it would be a “week-long” process. McConnell’s advisers say privately that he is being briefed by staff and talking with him, suggesting it could be a few weeks of inpatient rehab before he returns home.

If no senators are back by the end of this month, the Senate begins a long Easter recess on March 30 that will keep the chamber closed for legislative business until April 17.

Senators acknowledge that their personal health is a highly sensitive matter that is handled on a case-by-case basis in terms of public disclosure.

“You are asking a question that really deserves a good answer,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has battled the effects of long-term Covid for several years, said Wednesday. “I’ve felt the way you feel.”

None other than Sen. Joe Biden in 1988, missed seven months in the chamber As he recovered from a brain aneurysm, he was greeted with bipartisan praise when he returned.

In January 2013, then-Vice President Biden greeted Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) as he ascended to the Senate chamber on his first day back from the Capitol for a year.

More recently, Sen. Ben Rey Lujan (DN.M.) received bipartisan enthusiasm When he returned from a month’s leave last March, he had a stroke. After waiting a few days to make the stroke public, Lujan finally posted a video with two doctors from the University of New Mexico Hospital Who went into detail about his stroke and recovery.

McConnell has a recent history of being less than forthcoming about his health. In October 2020, weeks before Kentucky asked voters for a seventh six-year term, he was seen around the Capitol with severely bruised hands and a swollen lip that he refused to explain .

“I’m fine. And I can’t believe you guys played with this all week,” he said, complaining about the media coverage. in an interview those days.

When he collapsed on his driveway in Louisville in August 2019, McConnell The shoulder bone was broken, so that he was away from the public. for over a month while the Senate was on its annual late summer recess.

His closest aides don’t seem to know any more about McConnell’s downfall, which happened after a GOP donor dinner at a downtown Washington hotel last Wednesday.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said on Wednesday.

Fetterman faced attacks from Republicans throughout his run, including accusations that he had not disclosed enough information about his recovery. as it turned out, Exit polls show voters attention paid more attention to his opponent’s longtime residence in New Jersey than to Fetterman’s health.

After undergoing so-far-successful prostate surgery last month, Casey said he’s opened up about his medical procedure, perhaps even in “too much detail” given its sensitive nature.

Kaine hid his battle with Covid for months at a time, believing it would just go away. Finally, after speaking with doctors, he realized that his condition would be with him for some time and that many others suffering from a similar condition struggled to believe him.

He decided to speak up, inform his constituents and give a voice to others. “So that people know there is someone on the health committee who definitely believes in them,” Cain said.

He said that other legislators are also suffering from the long-term effects of the pandemic, but do not want to discuss it publicly. I respect their decision, but hope they move on,

“Everyone has to make their own decision,” Cain said, “but I hope to talk more about it.”

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