Medical News

Posted June 13, 2007 at 6:37pm

Correction Appended

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has become the second Senator to go on medical leave from the chamber this session, as his office announced that he had successful surgery Wednesday morning to remove a benign pituitary gland tumor in his brain. [IMGCAP(1)]

“The procedure involved no complications and he is expected to make a full and speedy recovery. We don’t have a date certain for his return, but we do expect him to be able to resume his Senate duties full-time by the end of the month,” read the e-mail from Coburn spokesman John Hart.

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in December.

Gas Guzzlers. FedEx chief executive Fred Smith may be getting plenty of accolades for taking a high-profile position in the ongoing energy debate.

But he’s also attracting his share of criticism for his view that Congress should increase fuel-economy standards.

Smith, who is set to testify today before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee’s hearing on “The Impact of Rising Gas Prices on America’s Small Businesses,” has ruffled the fragile feathers of lobbyists in the oil, gas and auto sectors.

Critics see Smith’s position as a classic case of picking on other industries. One of those lobbyists, who is working against the proposed SAFE Energy Act, notes that a recent study by the Roberts Environmental Center gave FedEx a C-minus for its environmental and sustainability reporting. By contrast, competitors UPS had an A and the U.S. Postal Service a B-minus.

“They have one of the oldest fleets among all the fleet carriers,” said this lobbyist. “If Fred Smith is concerned about energy independence, he should start with his own company first.”

FedEx spokeswoman Kristin Krause took a different view. “We’ve been leading the charge to try to bring cleaner fuel technology to the truck fleet,” she said, adding that FedEx currently has 93 hybrid medium-duty delivery vehicles and wants more.

— Emily Pierce and Kate Ackley

Correction: June 15, 2007
An item in the column incorrectly identified Fred Smith, who is vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy, as the CEO of FedEx. The FedEx CEO is a different Fred Smith.