When the House clerk called for Rep. Gregory W. Meeks' vote for speaker on Thursday, there was silence.
The New York Democrat was rushed to the hospital the day before after experiencing chest pain. "In a short time my doctors informed me that I had a blocked artery which caused a mild heart attack," Meeks, 62, said in a statement a few hours after the speaker election. "The doctors successfully placed a stent in my artery to clear it. I expect to return to work in a few days."
It's been a stressful week for the nine-term congressman.
"I have missed a few votes recently because I have been balancing my obligations as a member of Congress with my obligations to my family," he stated. "My 90-year-old father is hospitalized and seriously ill, but my family is grateful for his strength and grace, and thanks all who have offered kind words and prayers."
Meeks served as a Queens County assistant district attorney and New York assemblyman before coming to Congress. He has faced a series of questions about ethics over the years, mostly related to campaign spending.
The South Queens lawmaker says the experience has heightened his awareness about heart disease "and the importance of knowing the signs of a heart episode."
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