WASHINGTON — Rep. Sala Burton (D-San Francisco) is undergoing treatment for cancer in a Washington hospital, Rep. Don Edwards (D-San Jose), acting as her spokesman, confirmed Tuesday.
Edwards, chairman of the California Democratic congressional delegation, said Burton has cancer, but he did not know the nature of the treatment she is receiving.
Burton, 61, of San Francisco, has declined to talk for the record about her physical condition since surgery last summer, reportedly for colon cancer. Her congressional staff has declined to disclose information about her health.
She has represented the 5th Congressional District, which includes most of San Francisco, since 1983, succeeding her late husband, Phillip Burton.
A statement issued late Monday by Burton's office and attributed to her nephew, Tom Schulz, said she is "resting and recovering" at George Washington University Hospital.
"This will require a temporary absence from her office for an unspecified time, but she is handling routine correspondence and conversing with colleagues and relatives over the phone," the statement said.
Burton appeared with the congressional delegation at a news conference Dec. 9, showing a severe weight loss.
She was admitted to the hospital Jan. 8 "for treatment relating to her recuperation from earlier surgery," Schulz's statement said. "Her doctors have prescribed complete rest as crucial to her recovery."
Edwards said he hadn't spoken with Burton since administering the oath of office to her at her Washington home Jan. 7, the day before she went to the hospital.
Burton was too weak to attend House swearing-in ceremonies unless she used a wheelchair, which she did not want to do, but she was able to walk around at home, speak in a firm voice and sign papers in a strong hand, Edwards said.
If Burton were unable to perform her duties in Congress, she would retain her seat unless she resigned, because there is no procedure for declaring a seat vacated because of a member's ill health, once they have been sworn in, the House parliamentarian's office said.
If a California congressional seat is vacated, the governor must within two weeks call for a special election to be held in 112 to 119 days.