Kennedy’s Back in the Saddle

Posted November 17, 2008 at 11:08am

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has been fighting brain cancer, plans to return to the Senate today as the chamber opens its weeklong, lame-duck session.

A spokesman for Kennedy confirmed that the Massachusetts Senator plans to be back in the chamber beginning at noon. The Democratic Senator’s day will include conversations with staff and with the press about his plans for enacting universal health care coverage in the 111th Congress. Kennedy’s scheduled return marks his first public appearance since his speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has been undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have given him plum Capitol office space near the entrance to the Senate chamber.

Kennedy also plans to meet with Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday to discuss the duo’s plans to address health care reform next year. Baucus released an outline of his proposal last week.

In a statement, Kennedy said that it was “good to be back in the Senate” and that he was “grateful for the prayers and good wishes I’ve received over the past several months.” Kennedy said those wishes, along with the Nov. 4 election of now President-elect Barack Obama, have boosted his spirits.

“I am particularly looking forward to seeing my staff and my colleagues and to working in the current brief session on a realistic new stimulus package to help our fellow Americans who are suffering in this economic crisis,” Kennedy said. “I will also continue to lay the ground work for early action by Congress on health reform when President Obama takes office in January. We’ve been making real progress in our discussions about a consensus approach, and I’m optimistic we’ll succeed.”