Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, announced Thursday that has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.
But in a surprise to many of his colleagues, Wyden, 61, will undergo observation and surgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital next week at precisely the time Democrats will be trying to lock down votes on the START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Wyden's absence could complicate the fate of that measure, since Democrats have a razor-thin margin between victory and defeat and have already factored the senator's support into their vote counts.
"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 explained in a statement Thursday. "However, it now appears that I will be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare and undergo this procedure."
Later Thursday, Wyden's office told Talking Points Memo that the senator will be voting Saturday when the Senate decides the fate of a repeal of the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy and the DREAM Act.
Wyden said his cancer was discovered during a routine examination in November and added that he expects to resume a full schedule in time for the start of the 112th Congress next month.