Indianz.Com > News > Sen. Ben Ray Luján hospitalized after suffering stroke
Ben Ray Luján
Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico), then serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, is seen on a Congressional delegation visit to New Mexico on April 14, 2019. Photo by Monica Sanchez, Courtesy House Committee on Natural Resources Democrats
Sen. Ben Ray Luján hospitalized after suffering stroke
Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico), a key member of Congress who serves on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke.

Luján began experiencing “dizziness and fatigue” last Thursday, according to a statement from his chief of staff Carlos Sanchez. He was hospitalized at the University of New Mexico and is in recovery there after undergoing surgery connected to the stroke.

“He is currently being cared for at UNM Hospital, resting comfortably, and expected to make a full recovery,” Sanchez said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Senator’s offices remain open and will continue providing constituent services to all New Mexicans without any interruption.”

After winning election to the U.S. Senate in November 2020, Luján joined the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at the start of the 117th Congress in January 2021. As a member of the legislative panel, he has focused on protecting Native voting rights, safeguarding Native sacred places, improving infrastructure in Indian Country and securing stable funding for Indian programs.

“Our budget is a reflection of our values, and that must include robust and reliable funding for programs that serve tribal nations,” Luján said upon the introduction of S.2985, the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act, last October.

Luján previously served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Between 2009 and 2020, he represented New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district, which includes several Pueblo tribes, the Jicarilla Apache Nation and parts of the Navajo Nation.

“We offer our thoughts and prayers for Senator Luján, his family, and colleagues. We ask our Navajo people to join us in praying for a quick and full recovery for our Senator,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a post on social media on Wednesday.

A day before his hospitalization, Luján met virtually with leaders across New Mexico to discuss ways to improve infrastructure in the state. As part of the work, he serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where he has led hearings on addressing the digital divide in Indian Country.

“Meeting with local leaders is one of the most important parts of my job,” said Luján. “New Mexicans are best served by federal, state, and local officials working together to address the unique challenges New Mexicans face,” Luján said of his meeting last Wednesday. “I’m proud of the critical investments delivered in the bipartisan infrastructure package for my state.”

“Now comes the joint effort to use those funds efficiently to help local communities,” Luján said. “I also appreciated hearing the thoughts of local officials on how the federal government can help New Mexicans recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic and support our schools.”

Luján resides within the historic boundaries of the Pueblo of Nambé in northern New Mexico. His Hispanic family has lived in Nambé, a community separate from the tribe of the same name, for generations. The area is about 20 miles north of Santa Fe, the state capital.

“My thoughts are with Senator Luján, who I am fortunate to count as both a colleague and a friend,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) said in a statement on Wednesday. “I know that all of my fellow Senators and our constituents in New Mexico join me in sending our best wishes to Senator Luján, his family, and his staff. Senator Luján is a fighter and I have every confidence that he will have a full and speedy recovery.”

“Ben Ray is a tough norteño and I know he’ll be back on the Senate floor fighting for New Mexico families in no time – all of New Mexico is wishing him a speedy and full recovery,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who previously served in Congress alongside Luján, said in a post on social media.

“The Republican Party of New Mexico and I are saddened to learn of Sen. Lujan’s stroke, and we wish him a speedy recovery,” GOP State Chairman Steve Pearce, another former member of Congress, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Senator and his family during this difficult time.”