A Democratic Senator from South Carolina remains in critical condition following brain surgery at George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C. According to CNN.com, Tim Johnson was diagnosed with a congenital arteriovenous malformation – a tangle of arteries and veins – which caused bleeding in his brain. Surgery was necessary to stop the bleeding and fix the malformation.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, says most people with congenital arteriovenous malformation are born with the condition. Gupta said it could take weeks for Johnson to recover, depending on where the bleeding occurred. Johnson had shown signs of a stroke as late as yesterday when he was on a conference call, having problems first with his speech and then with his right arm. Adm. John Eisold, the U.S. Capitol’s attending physician, told CNN that it’s too early to tell if other surgeries will be necessary.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid visited Johnson today and told USA Today the senator “looks good.”
“We’re all praying for a full recovery and confident that will be the case,” Reid said, declining to give details about Johnson’s illness.
Johnson’s illness could affect the Democrats’ two-seat majority in the Senate. If he is not able to take his seat when Congress reconvenes next month, South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Mike Rounds would appoint a replacement. That would give the Senate a 50-50 split and, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote, give the Republicans the majority. Senate Democrats say they don’t expect the power of the majority to change in the near future.
The Constitution’s 17th amendment gives states the right to decide how to replace senators who die or resign. South Dakota is one of 43 states that allow governors to appoint replacements.

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