Update on Sen. Tim Johnson

By Nitya

Dec 28, 2006 4:39pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports:  A statement released by the office of South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) says that while Johnson remains in critical condition, he has improved and remains in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital, surrounded by family. 

Today is Sen. Johnson’s birthday.

According to his neurosurgeon, Johnson is "gradually being weaned from the sedation" and will undergo further testing in the coming days.

In the statement, his wife Barbara says, "Tim continues to give us great hope. While we were both looking forward to celebrating his 60th birthday with our family and friends, I know the celebration is just postponed."

Sen. Johnson was rushed to the hospital earlier this month after suffering stroke-like symptoms and had brain surgery to stop dangerous bleeding.

The senator’s sudden illness raised concern about the one-vote Democratic majority in the new Senate session.  According to state law, if Johnson’s seat were vacated, South Dakota’s Republican governor would appoint a replacement which would create an even split between the parties.  In the event of a 50-50 tie, Vice President Dick Cheney’s vote would tip the balance in GOP favor.

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