Democrats Temporarily Lose Senate Majority as Leahy Heads for Hip Surgery

The Democrats in Congress have temporarily lost their slim majority. Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont will be going into surgery on Thursday after breaking his hip.

A statement from Leahy’s office said the 82-year-old lawmaker “will undergo surgery to repair a broken hip that he suffered as a result from a fall at his house in McLean, Virginia, Wednesday night.”

“Having been born blind in one eye,” the statement continued, “the Senator has had a lifelong struggle with reduced depth perception.” It said Leahy “has taken some remarkable dingers over the years but this one finally caught up with him.”

Leahy’s doctors said immediate surgery would be the best course of action, according to the statement, and that a “healthy course of physical therapy” following his surgery would lead to a full recovery.

With the U.S. Senate evenly split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Kamala Harris acting the tie-breaker for Democrats; having Leahy absent for even a brief period would make it more difficult to pass any legislation.

Social media was flooded with messages wishing Leahy speedy recovery. There was also immediate concern about what this meant for the future of Democratic power in Senate.

End the filibuster!” declared Matt Stoller, an author and policy expert. “Also get Leahy a hip replacement!”

Others pointed out that Thursday was the last day of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s term and that his replacement Ketanji Jackson was sworn in at noon. The Democrats escaped a bullet at least in terms that appointment.

“Imagine how nervously we’d be approaching a summer SCOTUS confirmation battle if Breyer had only just this week retired, having waited til the end of the term,” saidBrian Fallon from the advocacy group Demand Justice. “Instead, KBJ gets sworn in today, having had a smooth process that earned GOP votes thanks to Breyer announcing early.”