Democrats' lose grip on Senate while Leahy recovers from fall

·1 min read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, 81, will undergo emergency hip surgery after falling Wednesday night, depriving his fellow Democrats of any majority in the chamber until he returns.

Leahy, who is third in line to the U.S. presidency given his role as Senate president pro tempore, broke his hip at his house in the northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, his office said on Thursday, adding that he is expected to make a full recovery.

"Having been born blind in one eye, the Senator has had a lifelong struggle with reduced depth perception. He has taken some remarkable dingers over the years but this one finally caught up with him," his office said in a statement.

While Leahy has said he will not seek re-election in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, his vote is critical in the 50-50 split Senate where Democratic U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

Leahy also chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal spending, at a time when President Joe Biden is still pressing his Build Back Better economic plan.

Democrats are seeking to maintain their hold on the chamber in November, and the seat Leahy has held since 1974 is still seen as leaning Democratic.

Despite his eyesight, the Vermont Democrat has also staked out territory in Hollywood, appearing in five "Batman" movies.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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