Rep. Spratt diagnosed with Parkinson's; will seek reelection

House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Spratt's doctor told him that he's in the early stages of the degenerative disorder "but the symptoms are mild and the progression is slow," Spratt said in a statement.

"The chief symptom is an occasional tremor in my right hand, which responds to medication and is mostly a nuisance," he said. "The other symptom is in my posture, which is bent a bit, but I hope to correct it with exercise."

He said that his doctor said his health wasn't a reason to decide against running.

“None of these symptoms affects me mentally or physically," Spratt said. "In January, for example, I made a long trek across the world to Afghanistan, with no limits on our itinerary."

Spratt said he disclosed the diagnosis to address "rumors" about his health as he runs for reelection. He said he would seek a 15th term in the House Wednesday.

He noted that last year he had bone spurs on his foot that caused him to hobble and surgery involving his prostate.

“But to dispel any doubt, the problem in no way involved cancer," he said. "This operation was also a success."

Spratt is set to be a pivotal player for the remainder of the 111th Congress. As Budget Committee chairman, he will shepherd the budget resolution in the House this spring. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has named him to the White House fiscal commission, which President Barack Obama has asked to produce a plan to rein in the $12.7 trillion debt.

Spratt said his appointment to the panel was a key factor in running again.

“Right now, the most troubling problem we face is the huge loss of jobs due to the recession,” Spratt said. “But as the economy recovers, we have to make sure that the deficits in our budget recover as well.”

Democrats were hoping he wouldn't retire, as House Republicans have been targeting Spratt's seat for a takeover, and Spratt waited to announce his election plans. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won Spratt's district in the 2008 presidential election, but Spratt easily won re-election that year with 62 percent of the vote. Spratt will face state Sen. Mick Mulvaney (R) in the general election.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room.

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