Fetterman will return to the Senate in 3 weeks

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Fetterman’s long break from the Senate is coming to an end next month. That’s according to a new report from Politico.

Sen. John Fetterman plans to return to the Senate the week of April 17 after more than a month of inpatient treatment for depression, according to two people with direct knowledge of his plan.

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Fetterman has been out for six weeks as of today and, not surprisingly, he’s missed a lot of votes in that time.

Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman has missed nearly 83% of Senate roll call votes since checking himself into a hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression last month.

According to government watchdog GovTrack, Fetterman has missed 53 of the 64 Senate roll call votes held during February and March. His average falls well beyond the lifetime record for missed votes for all current senators, which stands at 2.3%.

Officially the reason for his absence is depression related to his recovery from the stroke he had last year. But as many have noted, his hospital stay has been much longer than the usual stay for depression, which is about a week.

Hospital stays for depression are usually shorter than that of Fetterman, who has been at Walter Reed for close to 40 days. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that the average length of hospital stay was six days.

”Our average stay is around seven days,” said Brittni Jones, the medical director of the inpatient psychiatric units at Main Line Health’s Bryn Mawr Hospital. “It really just depends if there’s a variable that we can modify to make your life better.”

Fetterman’s stay has been prolonged because his doctors are working on getting his “medication balance exactly right,” a source close to Fetterman told CNN earlier this month. The source noted an issue with the senator’s blood-pressure medication that might have contributed to dizziness.

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All of this may be true but it still feels like a carefully crafted story designed to hide the fact that Fetterman wasn’t well enough to do his job. He’ll have spent 9 weeks in the hospital by the time he returns. His supporters don’t care how long it takes and his critics can be told whatever story his campaign wants to tell because whatever is really going on is between him and his doctors. Maybe one day we’ll get the whole truth but it will probably be a long time from now.

I’ve said before that I wish Fetterman well and that I believe in time he can recover. That’s still the case but the lack of transparency about his illness is striking. The Washington Examiner wrote about this yesterday.

When Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in mid-February for clinical depression, his aides told the New York Times they did not anticipate it would be longer than a few days. When a month passed with no news on his condition, his staff posted a photo of him with his chief of staff at Walter Reed…

Outside of social media trolls, most people in this state, whether they voted for him or not, have offered their prayers for his full recovery, not just from the effects of the stroke but also from his heart condition and mental health crisis. But any questioning of his prognosis has become taboo, which flies in the face of transparency that Democrats claim to be stewards of…

G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Millersville University, said that since the very beginning, there should have been much more transparency about Fetterman’s health. “An explanation of what he could and could not do would’ve been helpful,” he said. “Although his staff has been sending out stuff repeatedly, we really don’t know much. He hasn’t been able, not just to serve in Congress, in the Senate, but he’s not been able to travel around the state and visit with constituents, which is a pretty important requirement for officeholders, and particularly statewide officers. … I thought in the case of Sen. Casey, who had prostate cancer, there was much more transparency for the simple reason that he went in, had the surgery. The doctor said he’s 100% recovery, he’ll be back in action, and within two weeks, he was back serving in the Senate,” he said.

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It would be nice if we could just get the truth about Fetterman’s condition. He owes people that much.

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John Stossel 12:00 AM | April 24, 2024
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