Senator John Fetterman slurred his words and struggled to speak during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Tuesday. The newly elected senator from Pennsylvania recently returned to the chamber last month after a months-long hospitalization for clinical depression. Concerns over Fetterman’s health have repeatedly been raised as he continues to recover from a stroke he suffered last spring.
“Pennsylvanians have seen firsthand the awful impact on flooding on their homes and lives,” Fetterman began. “During Hurricane Ida, residents in and around Penn-Philadelphia area sheltered within the storm toward, excuse me, tore their homes apart,” he continued, struggling to find the words. The freshman senator also referred to Philadelphia’s Vine Street Expressway as the “Vine Street exway.”
On February 8, Fetterman was hospitalized overnight after feeling light-headed. His office reported that he was in “good spirits” and was conversing with the staff, stating that his hospitalization had nothing to do with his stroke recovery.
Then, on February 16, Fetterman checked himself in to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in order to treat symptoms of clinical depression in February. He would remain hospitalized until March 31.
According to a report from the New York Times, Fetterman’s most evident disability is a neurological condition that impairs his hearing. Fetterman has suffered from auditory processing issues since suffering his stroke, which forces him to rely on a tablet in order to transcribe what is being said to him.
When Fetterman’s condition is at its worst, he has described hearing voices as if they were the muffled voice of the teacher in “Peanuts” cartoons, per the New York Times report.
Upon his release from the hospital, Fetterman struggled to speak during his opening statement when he returned to the chamber on Apri 19. “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.”
John Fetterman chaired a subcommittee hearing today.
Here is his opening statement. pic.twitter.com/Y6EHYkhkBZ
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 19, 2023