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Kennedy Returns to Work to Vote on Stimulus

An ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) returned to the Senate to vote Monday evening and indicated he would be back Tuesday to vote on final passage of a massive $800 billion-plus economic stimulus package.

In brief remarks, Kennedy told reporters that he was doing well after suffering a seizure during an official Inauguration Day luncheon on Jan. 20.

“I’m doing well. Doing well, looking forward to this period of time,” Kennedy said. “Six-hundred thousand jobs have been lost in the last month, and hundreds of thousands of American families have been hurt by the failure of taking action on the health of the American families. And it’s time that we take action now. I think President [Barack] Obama has demonstrated his strong commitment to making progress on these important issues. And I look forward to being a part of the team.”

Kennedy’s vote Monday was not technically necessary because three Republicans were prepared to support a crucial test vote on the legislation and give Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) the 60 votes that he needed to block a GOP-led filibuster.

But Kennedy’s vote was seen as essential to give cover to moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine), who could be attacked by more conservative Members of their own party for being the decisive vote in favor of the measure. Instead, Kennedy helped the Senate overcome GOP procedural objections by a 61-36 margin.

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