Rep. Jennifer Wexton won’t seek reelection after being diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, the Virginia Democrat announced Monday.
Wexton shared in April that she had been receiving treatment and medical evaluations for Parkinson’s disease, but this modified diagnosis has more imminent implications. Progressive supranuclear palsy is a neurological disorder that affects eye movements, body movements and walking and balance. Wexton said she intends to serve out the remainder of her term.
“I sought out additional medical opinions and testing, and my doctors modified my diagnosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy – a kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids,'” Wexton shared in a statement. “I’ve always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now – this new diagnosis is a tough one. There is no ‘getting better’ with PSP. I’ll continue treatment options to manage my symptoms, but they don’t work as well with my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.
“I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community. But taking into consideration the prognosis for my health over the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek reelection once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones.”
Wexton, 55, said she noticed that women in her Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same symptoms she was, and she sought out additional opinions and testing.
Before coming to Congress, she was a prosecutor, attorney, and state senator. She was elected to Congress in 2018, the year Democrats took control of the House during former President Donald Trump’s time in office.
She serves on the House Appropriations Committee, and has fought for bipartisan legislation to expand opioid addiction research.
Wexton and her husband have two sons.