Sen. Wyden to have surgery for prostate cancer, will miss votes

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will undergo surgery next week to treat early-stage prostate cancer, forcing him to miss Friday's Senate session and parts of next week.

Wyden's impending absence threatens to significantly complicate Democrats' lame-duck agenda, as they'll be without a typically reliable vote in the Oregon Democrat. The upper chamber still needs to pass a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, ratify the New Start nuclear treaty and repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

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"I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington," Wyden said in a statement. "However, it now appears that I will be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare [for] and undergo this procedure. I expect to be back to work full-time when the Senate reconvenes in January."

Wyden was diagnosed with the early-stage cancer in late November.

“After reviewing all the options with multiple physicians, I decided to take a proactive approach and have surgery, which will be performed Dec. 20 at Johns Hopkins Hospital,” he said. “Thanks to routine screening, this was diagnosed very early and I expect a full and speedy recovery.”

Wyden will miss Friday’s session of the Senate to undergo pre-surgery procedures. He will be out all day Monday, the day of the surgery, and perhaps most of Tuesday, according to an aide.

Republican filibusters and other delaying tactics have pushed the session right up until Christmas because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to pass as much of the Democratic agenda as possible before 2011.
 
Wyden’s absence could make it more difficult for Democrats to pass bills on those days.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said leaders are short “two or three votes” to pass the omnibus spending bill.

Reid also plans votes to ratify the START Treaty and repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which could be close votes.

Wyden’s absence on Friday is not likely to have much of an impact, as Senate aides expect the day to be spent reading the entire 1,924-page omnibus bill, which is expected to require as many as 50 hours.

Reid plans to bring the omnibus bill to the Senate floor at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Reid has threatened to keep the Senate working through Christmas and the New Year's holiday until Jan. 5, when new senators are sworn in and Republicans will take control of additional seats. 


— This post was updated at 5:41 p.m.