Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.), who last year suffered a near-fatal stroke, struggled on Wednesday as he gave his opening statement as chairman of a Senate agriculture subcommittee.
“I call to this hearing of the U.S. Senate subcommittee and food and nutrition and specialty crops, organics and research, to order,” Fetterman said. “Hunger is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. It’s all of our issue that we have to take it on.”
Fetterman throughout his speech repeatedly mispronounced words and names, including that of Sen. John Boozman (R., Ark.).
Fetterman returned to the Senate on Monday after spending nearly two months in Walter Reed Medical Center for severe clinical depression and then taking more time to recuperate. He did not respond to reporters’ questions, only saying, “It’s great to be back. Thank you.”
That depression hospitalization is not Fetterman’s only health problem. While on the campaign trail last May, Fetterman suffered a near-fatal stroke. While Fetterman’s wife, staff, and personal doctor downplayed the stroke’s effects, a New York Times report in February revealed that Fetterman may have suffered permanent damage. Fetterman still faces “serious mental health challenges” stemming from the stroke, the Times reported, and privately acknowledges they may be permanent.
Fetterman has difficulties attending committee meetings and White House events, meeting with constituents, making appearances, and processing sound during conversations, the Times wrote.
People magazine on Monday published Fetterman’s first interview since he was released from Walter Reed. According to People, the senator was “feeling in many ways transformed” and “ready to talk.”
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