Mikulski misses Senate votes, goes home to rest before gall bladder surgery today; She hopes to be ready when Clinton trial resumes


WASHINGTON -- Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski missed a trio of votes yesterday at President Clinton's impeachment trial, deciding to skip them so she could rest before gall bladder surgery this morning.

Although she participated earlier in the day in Capitol Hill discussions involving the trial, Mikulski decided later to return to her North Baltimore apartment to prepare for the surgery, an aide said last night.

Mikulski spokeswoman Mona Miller said the senator consulted with her physician about her ailment -- an infected gall bladder -- and with Minority Leader Tom Daschle before deciding to have the surgery done today. Daschle, of South Dakota, "encouraged her to take care of the surgery," his spokeswoman, Ranit Schmelzer, said last night.

Miller said Mikulski "hopes that the weekend and the short time to be required for depositions will allow her to recover sufficiently to rejoin the proceedings as soon as possible."

The senator could not be sure when that would be, Miller added. Under one of the resolutions adopted yesterday, the impeachment trial is scheduled to resume Thursday.

Her surgeon is expected to use a laparoscope to remove the infected gall bladder, a technique that requires a smaller incision and shorter convalescence than traditional surgery.

Mikulski, 62, is being treated at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. She initially went to Mercy's emergency room on Tuesday with complaints of severe, lingering flu-like symptoms.

After being diagnosed and discharged, she made it to Washington for Wednesday's votes on an unsuccessful Democratic measure to end the trial and a Republican measure to allow depositions of three witnesses. She initially voted against the motion to end the trial, but quickly corrected her mistake, attributing the gaffe to her illness.

Mikulski's doctors said she needed to have the surgery within 10 days, Miller said. The recess until Thursday in the impeachment trial offered an opportunity to get it done today and return in time for any possible votes in early to mid-February.

With laparoscopic surgery patients are usually discharged from the hospital within a day or two. Recovery can take up to a week.

Mikulski wasn't the only senator to miss yesterday's votes on a Republican plan for the remainder of the trial and on two failed Democratic motions to short-circuit that plan.

Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican, also missed the votes. According to a spokesman, Sean Conway, Allard was told late Wednesday night that his 78-year-old father, Amos Allard, was gravely ill.

The senator traveled home yesterday morning to Loveland, Colo., to join his father, a retired rancher who has been suffering from cancer for the past year, Conway said.

Pub Date: 1/29/99

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