Democrats Wonder When Lautenberg Will Return

Tuesday, 16 Apr 2013 02:19 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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As Democrats scramble to come up with votes to pass new gun-control legislation, some are starting to wonder when Sen. Frank Lautenberg will be back at work.

The 89-year-old New Jersey Democrat has been away from the Senate for several weeks dealing with complications following cancer treatments he received several years ago, reports The New York Times.

Aides say Lautenberg, who is the oldest member of the Senate, will try to return to Washington when voting begins on the gun control measures, which could happen within days.

Lautenberg has been undergoing extensive physical therapy to deal with the long-term consequences of chemotherapy, which has left him using a wheelchair. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer three years ago.

Democrats worry that Lautenberg's health could have an impact on more than just the gun control vote. The senator plans to retire at the end of this session, but if that happens early, Republican Gov. Chris Christie would likely appoint a Republican to fill out the remainder of his term through the end of the year. That would leave Democrats with a majority of 52, not 53 seats in the Senate.

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