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Rep. Hunter Recovering from Spinal Surgery

The Capitol Hill press corps was quick to spot Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., in a neck brace today.

Hunter, a former Marine who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, showed up at a hearing of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee with a plastic harness around his neck.

Turns out the congressman didn't get into a physical altercation with the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno. (The two recently got into a spat over the service's battlefield intelligence system.)

Rather, he's recovering from spinal surgery, according to a staffer. Hunter underwent a procedure called cervical spinal fusion to repair a disc that degenerated after he injured his back while serving in the Corps.

The surgery took place about three weeks ago and required an incision in the neck, the staffer said. The brace is designed to limit the vertical movement of his neck to let the bones fuse.

The 36-year-old congressman is expected to be out of the brace this week, the staffer said. Still, it didn't stop him from needling Navy officials about the troubled Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS.

"If you had to go up against a China or a North Korea, the LCS is not the best ship for that scenario," he said. "It's great for the Strait of Hormuz. It's great for other areas. But with the Asia pivot, it's not what you want. You want more cruisers. You want more subs that have the survivability against the long-range threat."

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