Hospitalized in a Washington, D.C.-area medical center since mid-April, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Pete Stark said late Wednesday that the congressman continues to recover from a bout of severe pneumonia.
Stark, 77, came down with the illness in February and has been battling it ever since, according to Brian Cook, his press secretary. He was admitted to the hospital following a hearing mid last month.
"(The Congressman) has been recovering (but we don't yet know) when he might be released," Cook said.
In a May 4 letter to his House colleagues on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Stark, a fervent advocate for overhauling the nation's broken healthcare system, wrote:
"...It is totally ironic that at this pivotal time when we finally have a President and Congress ready to push forward with health reform, that I am tethered to monitors and participating from remote. I am an impatient patient but am making the best of the situation and following orders so that I can be back with you. As you know, I've been dealing with pneumonia since early February. They think that they've finally traced it to a fungal infection. Of course my lungs are inflamed and so they are watching me closely and hence the tether...."
"As it relates to our work, I'm seeing the health system up close and have more appreciation as a consumer than ever before. And I certainly am thankful that I have good health insurance and an excellent team of doctors -- something everyone in America should have. But sometimes I do wonder if this is a plot by the health lobbyists to keep my involvement in health reform at a minimum. I should also note that I'm very cognizant of Earl Blumenauer's comments of two weeks ago that I'm failing to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse and can assure you that this Chairman is going to great lengths to respond: I'm taking note of the number of face masks, gowns and purple gloves that are disposed of each day in the trash."
The Fremont Democrat who represents CA-13 finished the note this way:
"I miss my children, constituents and colleagues and am eager to have this behind me and to be back at home and work."
Dean of the California Congressional Delegation, Stark has been continuously serving in the House since he was first elected in 1972. Stark who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in 2008, collected a whopping 76.3 percent of the general election vote.
Follow Jeff Mitchell's political journalism at BAPolitix or on Twitter at @JEdwardMitchell